Are Texas Businesses Required to Wear Masks?

Mask Orders and Requirements are no longer mandated by the state, but private companies remain free to demand masks. However, a state law prohibits them from requiring proof of vaccination. Cruise lines operating out of Galveston require documentation of vaccinations from passengers, saying they are exempt from that rule. Regarding whether employers can continue to demand masks, the answer is yes.

The Wall Street Journal reported that some of the largest U. S. retail chains, theaters, hotels and restaurants operating in Texas announced that they will continue to require the use of masks. Private companies, such as Kroger, H-E-B and CVS, may require you to wear a mask if you want to enter their business.

Business owners will be able to decide for themselves if they are going to serve customers who do not wear masks. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Travis and Austin County officials in March for imposing a local mask mandate despite Abbott's order banning such requirements at the time. Bell County Judge David Blackburn provided guidance for businesses and local governments on the legal FAQ section on the subject. A state law Abbott signed on June 16 goes further, saying that a company in this state may not require a customer to provide any documentation certifying the customer's COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery upon entering, accessing, or receiving service from the company.

While Governor Abbott “strongly encouraged people to wear masks when it is “not feasible to maintain six feet of social distance from another person”, he made it clear that no Texas government entity could require a face covering, except in counties where the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 patients exceed 15% of the total capacity of the hospital. On March 2, he announced that there would no longer be COVID-19 operating limits for Texas businesses. A Williamson County judge also requires visitors and employees entering the Williamson County Justice Center to wear masks, as the county recently entered its red COVID-19 risk level. The Texas Supreme Court seems to be inclined to side with Abbott in this dispute over legal interpretation.

Following COVID protocols, including wearing masks, has been part of daily life in the pandemic until now. Last week, Austin Mayor Steve Adler urged City Manager Spencer Cronk to enforce a vaccination requirement for city employees. Under the executive order issued by Abbott, companies will be able to require customers to wear masks in their facilities.