Fort Worth

As CDC Eases Mask Guidance, Some Businesses Plan to Keep Policy

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Businesses across North Texas are adjusting to the new CDC guidance on masks. The agency announced fully-vaccinated people can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and most indoor settings. There are some exceptions like buses, planes, and hospitals. NBC 5’s Lili Zheng explains not all businesses are ready to ease restrictions.

Businesses across North Texas and the rest of the country are adjusting to the new mask-wearing guidance from the CDC, as some choose to keep their policies for the time being.

This week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the easing of their mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, including the need to wear masks outdoors in crowds and most indoor settings. The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.

Some businesses tell NBC 5, they encourage customers to wear masks but they are not required. Meanwhile, some like Cherry Coffee Shop on Magnolia Avenue plan to keep their policies in place for now. Shop owner Katherine Morris said the decision was not made lightly.

“We still have staff working through the final parts of the vaccination process and once they get through that incubation period, we’ll begin to relax those policies,” Morris said.

Morris also pointed out, there is no surefire way for businesses like hers and others to distinguish whether someone is vaccinated or not.

“Anyone can say they’re fully vaccinated. I’m not going to ask for proof of vaccination when you walk through the door. So, I’m going to do what’s best for my team in the interim,” she said.

Legally, assistant law professor Mike Maslanka with UNT Dallas said there is nothing stopping businesses from requiring a proof of vaccination from their patrons. Decisions to keep their mask policies are also not illegal, as it is comparable to the standard “no shirt, no service” policies that are widely accepted.

“It’s up to each individual business to decide how they’re going to run that business, to decide their terms of service for their customer. You know what? The customer isn’t always right,” Maslanka said. “The second level though is the business perspective. Do you want to do it? Is it a smart business move?”

Maslanka added employers can also mandate employees be vaccinated before returning to the workplace. Exceptions include religious or medical reasons, in which case, accommodations must be provided.

On Friday, Delta announced their new hires must be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they qualify for an accommodation. The policy takes effect Monday, May 17, with 60% of their employees already vaccinated.

“This is an important move to protect our people and our customers, ensuring we can safely operate as demand returns and as we accelerate through recovery and into the future. We will not be implementing a company-wide mandate to require current employees to be vaccinated,” a statement read in part. “Approximately two out of 10 Americans have been infected by COVID-19 and one out of 1,000 Americans has died. The vaccines are not only extremely effective in preventing illness and symptoms from COVID-19, they’re nearly 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Vaccines are safe, effective and essential to our future.”

As for Morris, she is asking patrons to respect their decision.

“My staff, they’re 19 to 24 years old. They’re not the ones making the decisions, so please don’t take it out on them. I’m the one that makes the decisions. They’re happy to hand out my phone number, and we can talk about it,” she said. “I’m happy to talk to anyone about it, but my staff is my priority. Just be kind to our team.”

Along with the new guidance for fully vaccinated people, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors.