The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores
H-E-B really wants its customers to wear masks in-store. In San Antonio, however, store staff will no longer turn away the mask-less.
The move comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott implemented an order allowing local governments to have mandatory mask ordinances, but forbidding them from imposing fines or punishments, according to a local San Antonio news report. H-E-B’s official stance is that it strongly encourages the wearing of masks or facial coverings by all of its customers. Store staff and vendors at H-E-B locations in San Antonio will still be required to wear masks.
Up to this point, H-E-B has drawn accolades for assuring customer safety throughout the pandemic, according to a Bond Brand Loyalty study quoted by Progressive Grocer. In the “Covid-19 Tracker Study,” H-E-B received an 80 percent customer satisfaction rating during the pandemic, performing nearly 20 percent better than Costco and Walmart, and more than 20 percent better than Publix and Kroger. Some of the measures that customers deemed the most important to feeling safe in-store were the availability of hand sanitizer and the consistent enforcement of social distancing.
Unclear data and confusing recommendations early on in the pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations have led to enduring controversy over the effectiveness of face masks in stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A recent meta-analysis published in The Lancet and reported on USA Today, however, appears to show significant value to masking up, especially in conjunction with social distancing and the use of eye protection.
As with numerous fixtures of the pandemic response in the U.S., mask-wearing has become a political flashpoint in some locales. A local news report last month from Lake Travis, TX, details residents being split on the question of mask-wearing, with some refusing to patronize places where masks were required and even believing that masks could cause physical damage.
Texas has begun the move into Phase III of its reopening, with Gov. Abbott announcing other reductions in pandemic-related limitations, according to The Houston Chronicle. For instance, restaurants operating a 25 percent capacity can now expand to 50 percent.
Texas is one of the states in which COVID-19 cases are currently on the rise, according to data compiled by the NY Times. The total case count in the state has exceeded 71,000 and nearly 1,800 deaths have been attributed to the virus to date.
- H-E-B says it will no longer deny entry to San Antonio stores for not wearing a mask – KSAT
- H-E-B Tops Customer Satisfaction Pandemic Ranking – Progressive Grocer
- First-of-its-kind study shows face masks greatly reduce risk of COVID-19 – USA Today
- Coronavirus in Lake Travis: the local politics of wearing a mask – Austin-American Statesman
- Houston coronavirus updates: Abbott announces phase III of reopening plan – The Houston Chronicle
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is it time for grocers to start relaxing policies for in-store face mask-wearing? What should determine how rigorously stores demand that customers wear them?