‘Mask use at our stores will remain.’ H-E-B pleads with Texans to continue wearing masks despite Abbott lifting mandate

‘The ending of mask ordinances puts real pressure on retailers to enforce an emotional topic for many.’

New H-E-B Spring Green Market
New H-E-B Spring Green Market (H-E-B)

SAN ANTONIO – “While statewide policy has changed, our store policy has not.”

Representatives for the San Antonio-based H-E-B released a more robust statement Wednesday following their initial response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement that masks would no longer be mandated in Texas starting March 10.

On Monday, H-E-B’s initial response said, in part, “H-E-B will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work, and we urge all customers to please wear a mask when in our stores.”

Some interpreted that to mean that mask use would be completely optional for H-E-B shoppers in Texas.

On Wednesday, H-E-B released a longer statement that more strongly urges mask use for customers, states the store will still post signage and direct customers to wear masks, but stops short of requiring a mask to enter a store.

“H-E-B has always followed state and local ordinances and we will continue to request shoppers wear masks while in our stores. Additionally, we will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work.

“H-E-B was an early adopter of mask use before any mandates and orders had been passed. Mask use at our stores will remain. Signs will remain posted at entrances and announcements made in store reminding customers to wear masks while shopping in our stores...”

“The ending of mask ordinances puts real pressure on retailers to enforce an emotional topic for many. We... ask for kindness and understanding from our customers in our request of them to wear masks in our stores,” the statement reads. (See the full statement at the bottom of the article.)

The mask issue has been a tough one for the grocery giant.

In May of last year, H-E-B enforced a mask requirement, but then backed off the mandate a few weeks later saying enforcement was “complicated,” pointing to a lack of government backing.

“Without any guidance or rules from the local government like we had a couple of weeks ago, there is nothing to enforce. We would have to call (police) for every conflict and use illegal trespass. It’s very difficult to deny entry. We request all customers wear masks and encourage it with messaging,” H-E-B spokesperson Dya Campos said in June of 2020.

Again without legal backing, the grocer is back to the same predicament.

So store officials are hoping that even though Texans are no longer required to wear a mask by law, they’ll continue to do it anyway.

Read the full statement from H-E-B below:

While statewide policy has changed, our store policy has not. H-E-B has always followed state and local ordinances and we will continue to request shoppers wear masks while in our stores. Additionally, we will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work.

H-E-B was an early adopter of mask use before any mandates and orders had been passed. Mask use at our stores will remain. Signs will remain posted at entrances and announcements made in store reminding customers to wear masks while shopping in our stores.

The CDC, State of Texas, and local health officials strongly advise the use of masks or facial coverings in public spaces as a proven way to slow the spread of Covid-19. Moreover, social distancing, wearing masks, proper hand washing, and sanitization are all things we do to help keep Texans healthy. These are all protocols we’ve had in place since the early days of the pandemic, and until more Texans and our Partners have access to the Covid-19 vaccine, we will continue these efforts.

Throughout the pandemic, we are thankful that we’ve seen strong compliance with mask wearing at our stores. But we need the help of all Texans to ensure compliance continues.

The ending of mask ordinances puts real pressure on retailers to enforce an emotional topic for many. We will continue to require masks for our Partners and vendors and ask for kindness and understanding from our customers in our request of them to wear masks in our stores. Also, we understand some customers cannot wear a mask due to medical exceptions. We request all customers adhere to the Covid-19 protocols we have in place while shopping.

As Texans helping Texans, let’s continue to protect each other while in our stores. Let’s keep our distance. Let’s wash our hands. And let’s continue to use a mask, if not to protect yourself, to help us protect our fellow Texans, as well as our dedicated Partners who have committed themselves to helping our communities throughout this pandemic and every other crisis this state has faced.

At H-E-B, our top priority is protecting the health and safety of our Partners, customers and the communities we serve.

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