WACO, TX — The Delta variant has been impacting communities throughout the country, causing some states and cities to re-instate mask mandates, and some businesses even requiring that employees be vaccinated.
As of right now, there is no mask mandate in place for Texas or a requirement for people to get vaccinated. Even as the COVID cases continue to increase throughout Central Texas, some local businesses don't feel the need to push those requirements on employees or customers.
Just a few months ago, businesses started reopening their doors and welcoming in more and more customers as COVID cases declined.
“Somehow with the start of 2021, it almost feels like it was the turn of the year almost. It was like we had a new beginning to the year,” Kate Ramirez, Manager of Lasalle Shoppes, said.
Lasalle shops were one of the last businesses in Waco to keep their mask requirement in place, only just dropping it about a month ago. But, it wasn’t just for the safety of the community, but for their manager, Kate Ramirez, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in October.
“I feel like I just had PTSD thinking about 2020,” Ramirez said.
And now with COVID cases on the rise again, Ramirez fears that re-enforcing masks could impact her business.
“I was a little more fearful going into it because the feedback I got after the fact like customers told me that they weren’t going to come in here if we ever required masks again,” Ramirez said.
On the other side of town, Infamous Ink, a tattoo and piercing shop, never required customers to wear masks, even during the height of the pandemic.
“From day one I have been pro-choice for everyone, to this day if they feel the need to wear them, and if they don’t, well, freedom of choice,” Zac Colbert, co-owner of Infamous Ink, said.
And with COVID hospitalizations on the rise throughout the U.S, places like New York, have businesses now requiring employees and even customers to be vaccinated. And while safety is a concern for both of these Waco businesses, neither believe that that requirement is in their future.
“I don’t want to require something, as far as a business goes, if it is that big of a health threat, then I think people should be at home. But I don’t want to force anyone to get a vaccine, that’s my path, but those who do want to take a vaccine, I am all for that as well,” Zac Colbert, co-owner of Infamous Ink, said.
“I don’t require the employees to be vaccinated, that is completely up to them, I just ask that they be safe and mindful again,” Ramirez said.
And while the pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty throughout the community, businesses are looking at the positives and hoping for a better future ahead.
“The sooner we can get back to that, the community involvement, getting everyone together and not feeling that awkwardness, it would be great for us,” Colbert said.
“I am just hoping that if things start to get worse again, people will go into it with a little bit more of a kind heart,” Ramirez said.
While Texas does not require businesses or people to get the vaccine or wear a mask, health experts encourage the community, whether they are vaccinated or not, to continue wearing their masks until the Delta Variant is under control.