Intentions Behind Keeping Mask Requirements in Central Texas Businesses

When the mandatory mask mandate was lifted across Texas, it left hundreds of businesses to decide to keep the mask up policy or go back to life before Coronavirus. Many of these businesses had their own agenda behind keeping the masks up that did not involve the safety of others. 

On March 2nd, Governor Greg Abbott lifted the mandatory mask mandate due to the tragic decrease in cases and deaths caused by Coronavirus in Texas. The decrease in cases is due to the vaccine, social distancing, and wearing one’s mask. With much controversy coming from Abbot lifting the mandate, many questioned why he would put his state at risk of increasing cases and potentially having more casualties. 

Interviews with June Rodriquez and True Labowski discussing the policies and what the future looks like with mask regulations. (Video Credit: Presley Henderson)

Safety or Political Agendas?

True Labowski, team member at Whataburger and RC’s Guitar and Gear store, is working at two places that have different Coronavirus policies. At the famous fast food chain, they are encouraging masks and have several in store policies to keep customers distanced, such as one person in the bathroom at once. But, at the small guitar store located in downtown New Braunfels, masks are not encouraged or required. 

Labowski believes that Whataburger, being such a large chain, is keeping the mandate due to the overwhelming amount of negative reactions received from millions of Texans. In both inside seating and drive thru, more than 50% of customers still wear facial coverings displaying precaution to this virus regardless of Abbotts lifting statement. 

Labowski believes Whataburger does have a political agenda behind keeping the mask policy in place due to the several statements released from the owners themselves. 

“For the time I have worked here, I have not heard any political talk from the managers or rumors online about this corporporation. They have been family-owned for so long and truly just take care of us and their customers to the best of their ability”. 

Ed Nelson, President of Whataburger, emphasises how important safety is to all Texans, employees and customers in a statement released online. 

“It’s all about keeping our Whataburger family – both employees and family – safe”. 

On the other hand, not being required to wear a mask at the family owned guitar store brings great relief to Labowski. They only ask employees to clean the guitar necks after each use. With the virus lasting over a year in the United States, being able to remember what life was like before helps Labowski keep his sanity while enjoying his favorite past time, playing music.

RC’s removed any mask regulation right after Abbott released his statement on March 2nd. Labowski believes it’s very difficult to not make decisions objectively and not on political preference when owning a small shop such as RC’s. There is no corporate to abide by or HR, just the family that owns it.

“For a small mom and pop shop, its hard not to have any political view in there, however, we feel very safe in the guitar store, not many people come in there. There is usually just regular traffic and we are just following Greg Abbott’s mandates”.

Many businesses during this pandemic had to follow policies and procedures from other states at which they originated from. Daniels Jewelers is a California based retailer that branched out to Texas three years ago. Opening its first Texas store in Sugar land and making its way to San Antonio within the last year, they have opened a total of 11 locations. 

Lisa Schabel, Manager of Daniel’s Jewelers in San Antonio, is certain that her company will not lift any mask policy until California as a state lifts theirs. Daniel’s are in other states such as Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico and they all must follow the California rules as well. Schabel is unsure how long this will last, because of the intense political climate taking place and the current democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom. 

“I do not feel that California will lift their mask anytime soon. I believe they will have it for at least another year, if not longer. It’s a political game they play and it could be a long time, if ever”. 

The protocol at each location is mandatory masks, frequent hand-washing, social distancing, sanitizing the glass cases very often and to stay home if experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus. Schabel and her employees are not expecting change in their workplace anytime soon, but are looking forward to the day masks are finally put behind them. 

What is Holding Salons Back from Lifting their Policies?

A large market that has been affected greatly during the pandemic has been hair salons and barber shops. These occupations were seen as high risk with how close stylists and clients are for waxing, beard times and hair cuts. Premier Cuts in San Marcos had to shut down in the beginning of the pandemic but since reopening in April of 2020 they have been busy non stop. Assistant Manager, June Rodriquez, explained the mask lifting policy and how Premier is moving forward through this hard time. 

“Premier Cuts is only responsible for employees wearing masks and are unable to request customers to wear one. The Texas Department of License and Regulation, TDLR, has made it mandatory for stylists to wear a mask to ensure the safety of others. We sanitize every station, tool and wash our hands daily, along with masks of course, to keep this place safe for everyone”. 

Rodriguez is certain there are no political agendas from the owners of Premier. The owner has had meetings with the staff and is ready to lift the masks once TDLR allows them to do so.  

At this rate, each business is going to slowly remove Coronavirus policies based on their customer demands and safety of their employees. This pandemic has paved the way for how restaurants, retailers and salons will run and no one truly knows if we will get back to “normal”. With recent presidential elections and governor elections here in the near future, Coronavirus will be a hot topic discussed and a way to persuade voters on who to vote for in office. 

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