For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, all Texas businesses will be permitted to fully reopen starting Wednesday.
Lisa Dickinson, store manager at Parts Unknown in Fort Worth, said they plan to open their shop at 100% capacity on Wednesday. Dickinson said while business on the weekends have picked up, weekdays are still operating slower.
For that reason, she does not anticipate a problem with crowd control.
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“I’m really excited. I think it’s a great first step in the right direction,” she told NBC 5 Tuesday.
The store will continue offering masks, though customers will no longer be required to wear them. The announcement last week by Gov. Greg Abbott included the ending of the statewide mask mandate.
“We’re all adults. It’s up to you. If you want to wear a mask, please do. If you don’t, you don’t have to,” Dickinson said, referring to their store's policy starting Wednesday. “If my store gets super, super packed, I would hope that people would put their masks on just to keep everybody safe.”
It's the same story at Shaw's Patio Bar & Grill on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth.
Owner David Shaw said employees will continue wearing masks but customers will have the option.
He also plans to change the sign on his front door which has said masks are required.
"Please show respect to our valued guests and hard-working staff," the new sign says. "Have patience and grace as we navigate the next phase of reopening Texas."
In Tarrant County, new data on the COVID-19 response presented by Tarrant County Public Health director Vinny Taneja showed a downward trend for both new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Asked about the lifted restrictions, Taneja stressed people “know the right thing to do”.
“The right thing to do is wear a mask, stay six feet away from others, avoid large gatherings. All of those public health measures have helped pushed COVID down and we should continue to do that for a little while longer until we can really lock COVID away,” Taneja said. “My stance has been, do we really have to mandate to do the right thing? We’ve all had the education. We’ve seen it work. We’ve seen when people get lax, it [trend] goes back up.”
Taneja added, among his biggest concerns at this point are the decreasing interest and demand in COVID-19 testing, as it is indicative of community spread.
As spring break approaches for local schools, he is urging people to avoid travel, if possible.
“That’s where my concern is currently. People need to pay attention. There’s new guidance from CDC, it advises against traveling. Avoid, if you can – especially international travel. That’s where my focus is, because I think that’s a bigger risk,” he said. “The economy’s back open, spend local. Right?”
Buon Giorno Coffee, owned by David Clarke, will keep capacity limits at both their Grapevine and Fort Worth locations. Clarke said they will also keep their mask policy in place for both employees and customers.
“I know it’s not 100%, but it does help. If we can save a few people from getting seriously ill or dying, we would have done something good,” Clarke said. “My position is we will carry on what we are doing. The practicalities are a little more difficult, because clearly, we have customers who have other opinions. We respect that.”
In Dallas, Refined Hospitality Concepts, which operates The Statler and Primo’s, among other properties – plans to continue with current safety protocols.
“Really for us on the hospitality side nothing is changing,” said Robert Hall, COO of Refined Hospitality Concepts.
According to Hall, masks will be required and enforced inside The Statler lobby and common areas but enforcement will not take place inside the restaurant properties.
“We are not in the enforcement business as far as guests go, so whatever is legal in the state of Texas will be legal for those citizens on property as well,” said Hall.
At Matt’s El Rancho, Co-owner Estella Martinez says she plans to take a similar approach. Martinez says she will require staff to wear masks but if patrons do not want to they will still be served.
“With one year of COVID and the restrictions that we have been under, it is hard to leave the masking and the distancing cold turkey,” said Martinez.