BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — Effective today, March 10, Governor Greg Abbott's mask mandate is officially lifted across the Lone Star State of Texas.
For the first time in nearly a year, Texans will no longer be required to wear a mask in public. However, while this might come as a long-awaited relief to some, for local businesses, the position could not be tougher out there.
Kristy Petty, owner of The Village in downtown Bryan, wants to make sure her customers and staff, both feel safe.
"I'm afraid that lifting the ban might actually discourage people from coming out to eat because they were feeling safe and comfortable with masks," Petty shared with 25 News.
Masks are still a requirement at her coffee shop, despite Governor Abbott lifting the state mandate- a decision... that comes with some reluctance.
"I think they should let people do as they please. It's my problem if I follow or not. And I think they should allow more freedom," Michael Kraft, customer said.
Although this customer plans to comply, Petty says, removing the mask mandate puts her and her staff in a tight predicament.
"We're having to police people, people that we depend on for their money and their tips to survive," Petty said.
"It can get really scary, sometimes, for employees to be all like, 'Hey, can you wear a mask?'," Ashlyn Richards, employee, The Village said.
Richards says, a customer at her former job yelled at her and reached over the counter because she asked him to wear a mask.
She fears similar backlash now that the mask mandate is lifted in Texas.
"It's going to put a lot of pressure on employees at businesses like this, where, they're going to have to confront people who don't want to wear a mask, and it just kind of makes us all feel unsafe," Richards said.
"I hate to put that on my 18 to 25-year-old employees, to have to argue with grown-ups about the safety of our other patrons, so I feel it puts us in a really hard position," Petty said.
Petty wishes the Governor waited until COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, or that the mask decision was left up to each county, accommodating areas with fewer cases and save businesses the burden of policing customers.
Along with the mask mandate being lifted, businesses are now also allowed to operate at full 100% capacity.