New numbers from the state show 16% of Texans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine so far.
Because of this, some North Texas business owners are taking a different approach to explain why they are choosing to keep a mask requirement in their establishments.
Before you step foot inside Monster Yogurt in Dallas or Richardson, owner Ava Skipworth asks that you read the sign on their door and consider employees like Sharon who is pictured with her face mask on.
“It says, ‘Our employees don’t have access to the vaccine yet’ and that we’re asking our community to wear a mask,” said Skipworth. “Myself included, I’m on several lists and I am not vaccinated yet, and I don’t want to get sick.”
COVID-19 has been brutal on her bottom line. Business is down 80%.
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“It has been the worst year in my entire career,” she said. “If it wasn’t for friends and family and the customers, I would’ve just given up and gone and done something else.”
However, Skipworth believes the state’s new order, giving her the choice to go mask-less, is not the answer.
“If we can’t get vaccinated, why is [Gov. Abbott] saying it’s ok to go into those businesses sand infect those people if they’re asymptomatic,” she asks. “I’ve lost several friends. I have someone in the hospital right now that’s a dear friend of mine, fighting it.”
Skipworth fears unsavory confrontations will rise in the coming weeks.
Last year, customers defied the mask mandate and tried to enter her shop and ended up driving three employees to quit.
“We hire a lot of young people and teenagers and they’re not equipped to handle a middle-aged person who’s coming at them, yelling and screaming,” she said. “They left in tears.”
An unofficial poll by the Texas Restaurant Association following the governor’s announcement found 43% of businesses will not require customers to wear a face covering, beginning today.
Keep in mind that for those businesses that do keep a mask requirement for customers, owners can refuse service to those not willing to follow their policy.
There are protections for owners even under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as long as an alternative is provided, according to the National Restaurant Association.
“There are situations where someone could have real difficulty in wearing a mask, but if you’re providing a reasonable accommodation, I think most restaurants would be safe in providing that alternative,” said attorney Eric Cedillo.
Alternatives like curbside delivery, which is offered by Monster Yogurt.
Cedillo also cautions business owners going mask-less, they themselves could be exposed to legal troubles.
“Businesses should take that into consideration,” he said. “A very real possibility exists that if they’re negligent in allowing someone to get the virus, that they could be put in a situation they don’t want to be in.”
Whether you agree or disagree with wearing a mask in public, this Richardson business owner struggling to survive only asks for people to respect each other.