Local business owners start to open at 100% capacity as mask mandate ends statewide

Businesses are reacting to Gov. Abbott's executive order that went into effect on Wednesday

FORT BEND COUNTY – Business owners in Richmond, Pearland, Conroe and Katy all had different guidelines in place Wednesday as the mask mandate ended in Texas.

At Treasure Hunter’s Gallery in Richmond, customers and owner Marlene Dame were excited about the state reopening.

“I feel like the governor said ‘Hey, let’s do this for many people. We’ve got to move forward,’” Dame said.

Dame said operating a business under COVID-19 restrictions has been a roller coaster.

“There are some days you open the door and you just pray people are going to come in,” she said.

Dame has chosen not to not wear a mask. She is letting her customers decide if they want to wear one.

“Freedom! Freedom!” One customer said.

Debbie McCarroll said it feels good to not wear a mask.

“It seems kind of strange because we’ve been wearing them for a year, but it’s nice to be able to not have it. But if a store requires you to wear a mask, then I will wear one,” McCarroll said.

Other businesses like Good Vibes Burgers and Brews in Pearland are more relaxed. The restaurant is open at 100% capacity, and customers and employees are not required to wear a mask.

At Citizens Grill in Montgomery County, the manager said customers are no longer required to wear a mask, but employees are. The restaurant is operating at around 90%.

“We had a normal lunch with normal customers, and I don’t even think anybody was coming in making a big deal of it,” owner Jim Hallers said.

Businesses, restaurants and bars can now return to 100% capacity

In Katy, Tobiou Sushi and Bar is sticking to 50% capacity. Owner Sherman Yung said everyone must wear a mask.

“I don’t feel comfortable putting staff at risk,” Yung said.

At This Is It Soul Food in Houston, all of their previous COVID-19 guidelines are still in place.

“We are still open to about 75% and we are still enforcing the mask. We are also still enforcing social distancing. Nothing is going to change,” manager Camryn Wilson said.

In Harris County, Judge Lina Hidalgo said while todays focus is on 100%, there are other things that need to be addressed. She said less than 10% of people over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated and the positivity rate is over 12%.

“In other words, we’re a long way from sparing ourselves,” Hidalgo said.