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Odessa businesses comment on how a repealed mask mandate would affect them

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 6:50 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -

Texas is officially the largest state in the country to lift its COVID-19 mask mandate.

Starting next Wednesday all business can open at 100% capacity and the mask mandate will be lifted.

“State mandates are no longer needed,” Governor Greg Abbott announced in a Tuesday news conference.

Abbott said hospitalizations and COVID positivity rates have dropped so low throughout Texas the state doesn’t need to step in any longer.

So, does this mean Texans are ditching masks now that they have a choice?

Management at Pho House Odessa says probably not.

“Usually everyone that comes in wears a mask,” Pho House Odessa Manager Henry Hoang said. “I feel like even if it gets repealed, I think that most people maybe up to 75% of people will still wear a mask and maybe just a few won’t.”

Abbott’s new orders allow businesses to make their patrons wear masks or limit capacity if they wish it.

Pho House said it’ll likely relax its mask rules for customers, but the staff will keep wearing them as usual.

Over at Lil Cactus House, Mary Helen Delgado thinks there’s room for flexibility.

She takes COVID precautions seriously and thinks these rules are needed in places where you’ll likely find vulnerable people.

“It should be that way in schools, businesses that are health based where you’ll find sick people,” she said. “I think you should take care of them.”

But in shops like hers, she doesn’t mind finding some kind of compromise for customers who don’t want to wear a mask. For instance, she may just wear hers or keep her distance.

“I think if everyone is polite, civil and not hateful with each other I think it’ll work.”

Despite the relaxed rules, the governor warns we’re not done with the virus yet.

“Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility,” Abbott said.

He still wants people to wear a mask and social distance whether they have to or not.

There is one caveat to all this.

If hospitalizations go above 15%, the county judge does have power to add new policies to tamp down cases. However, they can’t jail anyone for not wearing a mask or limit business capacities below 50%.

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