(Sam Noble)

An employee at the new HEB is South Austin wears a mask; customers are not required to.

A petition requesting that all HEB customers be required to wear masks amassed over 44,000 signatures.


HEB loosened its guidelines on wearing masks earlier this month by "strongly encouraging" customers to wear them but not requiring it.

David Spener, the petition's organizer, wrote that HEB lessened their requirements because Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ruled that local governments cannot force people to wear masks.

"HEB, as a private company, is free to require customers to wear masks in their stores, regardless of whether state or local laws require it," Spener said. "As a consequence, many customers enter and leave HEB stores without masks, exposing HEB employees and their fellow shoppers to increased risk of being infected with the COVID virus."

Texas mayors recently asked Abbott for more power to require masks in their own cities.

In Bexar County, HEB locations are once again requiring masks after a county judge mandated face coverings. HEB said they are adhering to local government ordinances when it comes to enforcing customers to wear masks.

Austin may soon follow suit as Mayor Steve Adler is developing a similar order to mandate businesses require masks.

(Emma Freer)

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