In an old house in Bishop Arts, signs state masks are required for those entering CocoAndre Chocolatier and Horchateria.
Owner Cindy Pedraza said it’s a decision that had to be made following Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to end a state-wide mask mandate, which she saw as a first line of defense for keeping her employees safe.
“Financially, mentally, physically, it’s very stressful,” said Pedraza. “I don’t want to carry on that guilt if one of my employees gets sick.
But though she can and will require customers to wear masks, while keeping the store’s capacity reduced, she said placing that responsibility on business owners puts them in a difficult position.
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Then, Wednesday’s announcement about vaccine eligibility delivered another blow.
Though CDC recommendations suggest including essential workers like service industry employees in group 1c, Texas will instead prioritize people 50 and older.
Officials say that’s because more than 90% of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in older people.
But with a staff of eight she feels responsible for, Pedraza said she was hopeful state officials would see the need to include them.
"I feel like we are the front-line people. We're the ones that serve the public,” said Pedraza.
For now, she’ll continue doing what she can to protect her people, while she holds out hope the state will offer more protection soon.