HOUSTON – Even when the mask mandate is lifted in Texas next week, customers will still need to wear a mask inside Phoenicia Specialty Foods in downtown Houston.
“We want to make an environment where everyone that comes in the store, shoppers or staff, are comfortable being here,” said owner and manager Haig Tcholakian.
He said the grocery store will keep the mask rule and limited capacity in place for now, even after next Wednesday.
“We want to stick with the path and get everybody back to normal as soon as we can here in Houston,” Tcholakian said.
On social media, some businesses have posted that they plan to take the same route.
“We want to remind you that private entities, private businesses, have a legal right to require you to wear a mask,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a video on Twitter.
What happens if people enter and refuse?
“Just remember that if you remain in the business after being asked to leave, you are subject to arrest for criminal trespass,” Acevedo said.
Attorney Katherine Treistman, a commercial litigator with Arnold & Porter, said private businesses are free to make their own policies.
“They can tell you to wear a mask,” she said. “I think as long as the policy, whatever the policy they choose to implement, is applied in the same, non-discriminatory manner, then they can choose whatever policy they want.”
Though shoppers can also choose to go to a business that aligns with their preference.
“I think it’s up to the business,” said Houston resident Camilla Barrilleaux. “I mean they know their staff best. They know their clientele best.”