HOUSTON — On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he is lifting statewide coronavirus restrictions and ending the Texas mask mandate. Effective Wednesday, March 10, all businesses are allowed to reopen 100% and Texans will no longer be required by law to wear masks in public spaces.
However, there are several orders from both President Joe Biden and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that require that masks still be worn in certain places.
To clear up confusion, KHOU broke down the masking guidance for some major public spaces.
"To protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce, and to ensure the continuity of Government services and activities, on-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines," the order says in part.
"Conveyance operators must also require all persons on board to wear masks when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel," the CDC said. "Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premise of a transportation hub."
"Federal law now requires anyone on the METRO system to wear a face mask. This includes rail stations, transit centers and bus stops. Plastic face shields are not considered masks. Exemptions are available for children under the age of two, a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask or wear one safely because of a disability defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act," it reads on the METRO website. "Violators could be denied service and/or face federal penalties."
City of Houston facilities
Masks are still required in all city facilities or venues, like the George R. Brown Convention Center, city libraries and courthouses.
On Wednesday, the TEA said it has updated its Public Health Guidance to say a public school system’s current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards will have full authority to determine their local mask policy. The TEA has also made updates related to surface cleaning requirements.
"As a community-based organization focused on the health and well-being of all, our top priority is ensuring the safety of our staff, our members and the communities we serve.
While statewide policies are changing this week, mask protocols for our YMCA will remain the same.
Masks are required for individuals age 10+ in common areas, locker rooms, hallways and when an individual is not engaged in indoor exercise as well as for youth ages 10+ in Child Watch, Y Learning Centers and Day/Holiday Camp programs. Masks will not be required while a member is actively engaged in exercise.
Masks will not be required when members or participants are on an outdoor pool deck or outdoor sport fields."
Businesses and service providers
The executive order announced Tuesday rescinds most of the governor's earlier executive orders related to COVID-19. It says that effective Wednesday, March 10, all businesses may open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will no longer be enforced.
However, businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols – including requiring masks – at their own discretion. Businesses also reserve the right to refuse service to any patrons who do not follow stated protocols.