H-E-B, Kroger to continue enforcing mask mandate for employees, despite Abbott’s order

H-E-B's president discussed the company's plan to continue enforcing their mask policy for employees and vendors, despite Gov. Abbott ending the mask mandate next week.

HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that starting March 10, business capacity limits and the state’s mask mandate would be lifted.

During the announcement, Abbott said although county judges can institute coronavirus-mitigation measures in their counties if the hospitalization rate rises above 15% for seven consecutive days, no one can be jailed for failing to follow those protocols or be penalized for not wearing a mask.

H-E-B and Kroger responded to Abbott’s executive order saying they will continue to require all employees to wear masks while encouraging customers to do the same.

“Although the statewide mask mandate has been lifted in Texas, to ensure the safety of our customers and associates, Kroger will continue to follow health and safety guidelines recommended by the CDC by requiring all associates in our stores to wear a mask. We encourage all customers visiting our stores to continue to wear a mask to protect themselves, those around them, and our associates. We remind those who can’t wear masks that we offer low touch or no touch pickup and delivery services.”

“Although there is no longer a statewide mask order, H-E-B believes it is important that masks be worn in public spaces until more Texans and our Partners have access to the Covid-19 vaccine. As an essential service provider during the pandemic, H-E-B is focused on the health and safety of our Partners and customers. H-E-B will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work, and we urge all customers to please wear a mask when in our stores.”

On Wednesday, the grocer released an additional statement from Lisa Helfman, public affairs director, H-E-B Houston:

“Though statewide policy has changed, our store policy has not. We will continue to ask shoppers to be masked while in our stores. Additionally, we will still require all our partners and vendors to wear masks while at work.”

H-E-B has largely required customers to wear a mask in its stores since last summer. The company said its mask policies are expected to remain in place “until more Texans and our partners have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”