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H-E-B to continue requiring masks in stores

H-E-B officials announced March 5 that customers are still required to wear face coverings despite Gov. Greg Abbott lifting the statewide mask mandate on Wednesday, March 10. Staff photo

The state’s largest grocery chain said it will continue to require customers wear face coverings in its stores, despite Gov. Greg Abbott lifting the almost 10-month-long statewide mask mandate to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

“While statewide policy has changed, our store protocol has not,” H-E-B officials stated in a news release. “Mask use at our stores will remain. Our signs requiring mask use will remain posted, and we will continue to make announcements in store.”

On March 2, Abbott rescinded his order requiring face coverings as of Wednesday, March 10. The new ruling also allows all businesses in Texas to open at 100 percent capacity on that same date.

His decision has drawn praise and criticism as well as uncertainty. With the state face covering mandate lifted, some business owners have expressed concern over balancing their employees’ and customers’ health against sentiment both for and against the practice. While the governor allowed for businesses to continue to require customers or patrons to wear face coverings while inside those establishments, owners and managers have to consider how to enforce it.

H-E-B officials pointed out that the grocery chain has been a strong proponent of face coverings even before the governor issued the statewide mandate in July 2020.

“We will continue to expect shoppers to wear masks while in our stores,” the H-E-B statement continued. “Additionally, we will still require all our partners and vendors to wear masks while at work.”

H-E-B officials are also asking for patience from Texans as the state face covering mandate ends and some businesses continue with their own requirements.

“The ending of the mask ordinances puts real pressure on retailers to enforce an emotional topic for many,” reads the news release. “We ask for kindness and understanding from our customers in our expectation of them to wear masks in our stores.”

editor@thepicayune.com

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