Is Texas messing with retailers?
As the expression goes, “don’t mess with Texas,” but retailers are finding they may have little choice. Many retailers found themselves facing a dilemma this week after Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas was lifting its mask mandate in the state.
The decision by the governor made the state the largest in the nation to remove its mandate on face coverings. It took many by surprise, considering that Texas remains among the hardest hit states when it comes to the novel coronavirus pandemic and fresh concerns are being raised about four different variants, including those considered more easily spread, that have been discovered in the state by medical researchers.
Retailers have long enjoyed the hands-off approach that Texas takes to business, but this latest action has many wondering if Mr. Abbott and backers of his action have fully considered the situation it puts retail operators in. Many have had to deal with a substantial part of the population who have chosen to disregard the science when it comes to COVID-19, including those who still cling to theories that it is no more deadly than the flu or, worse, that it’s a hoax made up by Democrats and their allies.
“Tremendous strides have been made in recent weeks lowering the rate of COVID-19 infections and vaccinating seniors and other vulnerable populations, and President Biden’s announcement yesterday that every adult will have access to a vaccine by the end of May is great news,” Jason Brewer, EVP, communications and state affairs, Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a statement responding to the lifting of mask mandates. “We should not jeopardize this progress with a premature victory celebration.”
Bill Thorne, SVP of communications and public affairs at the National Retail Federation, said retailers have the right to determine and enforce their own policies, including banning customers without masks from entering stores. In July, NRF called on retailers nationwide to establish and enforce mask mandates.
Texas is not the only state that has recently lifted mask mandates. Iowa, Mississippi and Montana also no longer require masks in public places. South Dakota has never implemented a mask mandate despite having one of the worst records when it comes to per capita spread of the disease, associated hospitalizations and deaths.
- Texas to lift statewide mask mandate, despite warnings from public health officials – CBS News
- Four states have rolled back mask mandates. More could be on the way. Here’s what it could mean for all of us. – USA Today
- Fauci vs. SD Gov Kristi Noem: ‘The numbers don’t lie’ – The Hill
- RILA Response to Governors Revoking Mask Mandates – Retail Industry Leaders Association
- NRF Encourages Customers to Continue Wearing Masks in Stores Nationwide – National Retail Federation
- NRF calls on retailers to set nationwide mask policy – National Retail Federation
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are governors that lift face mask mandates making it easier or harder for retailers to conduct business in light of the current COVID-19 realities on the ground? How do you think retailers operating in these states should respond?