- More than 44,000 people have signed an online petition asking H-E-B to make wearing face masks a requirement for customers again, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
- According to the petition, H-E-B said it removed its face mask requirement on June 3 because Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott banned local government officials from imposing fines or penalties on people who don’t wear face masks in public places.
- “H-E-B, as a private company, is free to require customers to wear masks in their stores, regardless of whether state or local laws require it,” the Change.org petition states. “H-E-B needs to REQUIRE shoppers to wear face-coverings if they want to shop in their stores.”
Before changing course, H-E-B only required customers to wear face masks in areas where coverings were mandated by local governments. And the grocer still strongly encouraged shoppers to cover their faces even after it removed its mask requirement.
However, David Spener, the creator of the petition, argued that giving customers a choice of whether to wear a mask exposes H-E-B employees and other customers to an increased possibility of contracting COVID-19.
But unless local governments mandate face coverings, H-E-B cannot legally deny customers entry to a store for not wearing one.
Coronavirus cases in H-E-B’s home state of Texas have skyrocketed since government regulations loosened. On Wednesday, Texas reported a record number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 and an increasing daily death toll, according to the Washington Post.
On Tuesday, the mayors of nine of Texas’ largest cities asked the governor to allow them to mandate face masks. Meanwhile, a judge in populous Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, circumvented Abbott’s ruling by requiring businesses to impose face mask requirements. While individuals can’t be fined for not following the rules, businesses can face sanctions. Abbott said they “finally figured that out,” and that the ability to impose this rule on businesses was there all along.
In response to the Bexar County judge's order, H-E-B released a statement Wednesday that effective June 22, it will require customers to wear face masks at all H-E-B stores in the county.