Some Houston area businesses welcome statewide mask mandate removal, while other others fear backlash

Masks will no longer be mandatory at Texas businesses starting Wednesday, March 10, per Gov. Abbott’s new executive order.

HOUSTON – Masks will no longer be mandatory at Texas businesses starting Wednesday, March 10, per Gov. Abbott’s new executive order.

Common Bond Bakery Bistro Brasserie, which has several Houston-area locations, said it will still ask employees and customers to wear their masks for safety.

George Joseph is the restaurant’s chief executive officer. Joseph said he is looking forward to lifting the restriction, but now is not the right time.

“I think it’s a day-by-day thing, and a lot of it goes with timing,” he said. “I think the more people that get the vaccines, and we can see the hospitalizations continue, and the death rates drop, then yeah, we want to be cooperative.”

Customers will not need to wear a mask to shop at The Lift on 19th in The Heights starting Wednesday, said Kelly Contello, owner of the gift and book shop.

“Tomorrow I am not going to be enforcing the mask mandate because I think it’s up to the individual,” Contello said.

She added that customers can still choose to wear a mask if it would make them more comfortable while shopping.

“If you want to stay home, stay home and be safe,” she added. “But let’s get fresh air. Let’s go into stores. Let’s go into restaurants. Let’s go into bars. Let’s get our life back on track.”

Joseph said he hopes people who may not agree with his stance, not take it out on his restaurant’s employees. He has even trained his employees on how to de-escalate the situation should a customer refuse to put on a mask.

“We just hope people are respectful to our staff because the staff’s busy. They’re doing a hard job. They’re on the front lines. We’re worried about their health. They don’t need to have to be a police (officer) or a mask police. Just be cooperative,” said Joseph.

The restaurant CEO said they did have to call the police once on a customer who refused to wear a mask and leave their establishment in The Heights.

Houston police chief Art Acevedo said he expects his department will have to respond to more of those calls.

“We have very strong property rights, and so, if a person does not want to wear a mask and refuses to wear the mask and refuses to leave, they’re committing what’s called criminal trespassing.”

Acevedo said that person could face arrest or receive a warning, which will bar that person from the business for a year.