ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Gov. Abbott made an announcement Tuesday afternoon, saying he will be ending the mask mandate effective next Wednesday. This has created a number of questions regarding which establishments will continue to require people to wear masks. Here’s what we know:
City of Abilene
The City of Abilene will no longer be requiring its employees to wear masks effective Wednesday, March 10th.
Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna said in an administrative directive sent to staff that in accordance with the to-be-released Governor’s Executive Order, City employees are no longer required to wear masks, but may choose to do so voluntarily.
However, Hanna added, if COVID hospitalizations increase to a 15% for seven straight days, the County Judge may implement business occupancy limitations up to 50%, and may be able to require masks.
“If that happens, we will mandate mask wearing again.” said City Manager Robert Hannah.
According to the City, individuals who enter the Health Department will have the choice of whether or not to wear a mask.
Abilene PD’s Chief Dudley said Wednesday in a press conference that the department will follow the guidelines stated by the city.
The Abilene Independent School District released the following statement:
“We are aware of the governor’s announcement regarding the state’s mask mandate. At this time there is no change to Abilene ISD’s health and safety protocols that have guided our district since last August. We anticipate receiving further guidance from the Texas Education Agency and local health advisors. We will share information with students, parents, staff, families, and community as we learn more.”
Jim Ned’s Superintendent, Glen Teal, said they will continue to monitor the situation and create a transition plan.
“Jim Ned just learned of the Governor’s message regarding masks. As soon as possible, we will be sharing our district’s plans with our parents & students. As we have been doing since the onset of COVID, we will confer with our Taylor County officials, local medical officials, & our school board regarding a transition plan away from the mask mandate & other COVID-related mandates. “
Wylie ISD’s Communications Director, said they would wait for additional guidance from the TEA.
“Wylie ISD is aware of Governor Abbott’s decision to rescind the statewide mask mandate beginning March 10th. Our district is waiting on additional guidance from the Texas Education Agency regarding this decision and we ask that all students and staff continue to follow the safety protocols that we currently have in place. We will communicate any updates as we receive more information from TEA. “
Sweetwater ISD released the following statement:
“Sweetwater ISD is awaiting further guidance from TEA, UIL, and other governing agencies of school activities. Sweetwater ISD is asking all students and staff to continue our current safety protocols including wearing masks until March 10th.
As we continue to learn more details and further guidance is provided regarding masks in schools we will communicate with our families and staff. Thank you all for your patience and support.”
H-E-B will still be requiring its partners and to wear masks at work, and is urging its customers to also wear a mask.
“Although there is no longer a statewide mask order, H-E-B believes it is important that masks be worn in public spaces until more Texans and our Partners have access to the Covid-19 vaccine. As an essential service provider during the pandemic, H-E-B will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work. H-E-B is focused on the health and safety of our Partners and customers, and we urge all customers to please wear a mask when in our stores.”
The United Family of stores said they will continue to require their staff to wear masks; Customers will not be required to wear masks, however, they highly encourage it.
“We are feeling hopeful, as the number of COVID cases in our community continues to decline. The United Family of stores will do our part in staying diligent in our cleaning protocols, as well as having our team members continue to wear masks. We encourage guests to continue following the COVID safety protocols that have contributed to the decline in COVID cases. With an end to the statewide mandate, masks will not be required for guests in our stores, beginning March 10. We will re-evaluate our practices in mid-April, as we persistently advocate for our essential workers to become eligible for the COVID vaccine.”
The Paramount Theatre:
The Paramount Theatre will continue to require guests to wear masks. The organization released a statement saying they have not changed their capacity.
“We feel like we have a system that is safe, a system that has exceeded local, state, and federal requirements, and we’re not ready to abandon what works,” said the Paramount Theatre. “We will continue to monitor Hendrick COVID-19 numbers.”
Diocese of San Angelo
The Diocese of San Angelo released to following statement.
“In light of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order on March 2, some have asked if there have been any changes to our church practices. All coronavirus protocols in the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo remain in effect until further notice. These include liturgy, faith formation, religious education, youth ministry, sacraments, gatherings, Catholic schools, etc. The Diocese of San Angelo is currently studying the executive order of the governor, which is set to take effect on March 10. The diocese will be in communication with pastors, school personnel, and employees, as diocesan policies impact parishes, Catholic schools, and all our operations. The diocese will also obtain input from local officials and health authorities. “