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Thousands sign petition demanding H-E-B require shoppers to wear face masks

H-E-B dropped its mask requirement earlier this month, and petition supporters believe the decision has put shoppers and employees at risk.

TEXAS, USA — A petition demanding H-E-B bring back mask requirements for its shoppers is gaining clout online as Texas coronavirus cases continue to rise. It’s already collected more than 36,000 signatures.

David Spener posted the petition to Change.org with a goal of reaching 50,000 signatures. He argues giving customers the option to wear masks puts everyone inside the store at risk and contributes to the statewide spread of the virus.

The petition is available here.

H-E-B has confirmed positive cases among its employees throughout the state despite aggressive efforts to control coronavirus spread within its stores. Efforts include mask requirements for all employees, social distancing enforcement, plastic shields at all registers and shopper limits inside the supermarket.

There has also been a big push for shoppers to use pickup or curbside services.

On June 2, the company announced that it was no longer requiring shoppers to wear masks inside its stores. Today, H-E-B strongly encourages its patrons to continue wearing masks, but it is not mandatory.

The grocery chain requires customers to wear masks at locations where local governments mandate that facial coverings be worn in public spaces.

RELATED: Texas COVID-19 cases continue to rise: 'This is the consequence' of opening early, doctor says

RELATED: Gov. Abbott advises wearing masks, staying home as Texas sets another record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Kroger, Walmart, Target and other large grocery retailers have taken a similar approach. Meanwhile, Costco still requires customers to wear masks or face coverings inside its stores.

Gov. Greg Abbott has continued to take the bite out of local-level mask requirement orders, leaving mayors and county leaders with little to no authority to enforce such policies.

Houston, San Antonio and seven other mayors recently sent Abbott give local officials the power to make their own regulations for masks. It’s still unclear if the governor will oblige.

The Texas Health and Human Services Department has reported a record-breaking number of coronavirus cases for the past four straight days. There also been a rise in COVID-related hospitalizations.

Local health experts believe this upward trend signifies COVID-19 spread is still uncontrolled— or possibly the coming of a second wave.

Abbott insists the new case numbers are due to mass testing at nursing homes and jails. He adds Texas hospitals are well equipped to taken in the incoming COVID-19 cases.

The governor has been a voice encouraging Texans to wear masks and practice social distancing, but he hasn't made it a requirement.

RELATED: Texas bar bans customers from wearing masks: 'Sorry, no mask allowed'

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