What Abbott’s decision to lift COVID restrictions means for Texas’ largest employers

Gordon Dickson
·2 min read

Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement that he is lifting COVID restrictions statewide arrived on Texas Independence Day with a big media splash, but Dallas-Fort Worth’s major employers say it won’t impact their day-to-day operations much.

“In short, the governor’s executive order won’t change our protocols,” said Kenneth Ross, spokesman for Lockheed Martin, which employs 20,500 people in North Texas. “Throughout the pandemic, Lockheed Martin has focused on the health and safety of our employees. We have maintained safety precautions and protocols consistent with CDC guidance at all of our facilities and will continue those practices, including the requirement to wear masks or face coverings at our facilities.”

At American Airlines, the region’s largest employer with about 30,000 workers living in the area prior to the pandemic, workers must still abide by federal regulations requiring masks at airports and on board aircraft.

“American’s policy requiring face coverings for all passengers and team members has not changed,” American Airlines spokeswoman Stacy Day said in an email. “Wearing a face covering when flying and while at the airport is federally mandated, and our team members – including those working in Texas – will continue to be required to wear a face covering at all times while at work.”

At Bell, a helicopter and drone manufacturer and one of Fort Worth’s oldest companies, the company has no immediate plans to lift requirements that employees wear masks and stay socially distant from each other, spokeswoman Lindsey Hughes said.

“The team is working to understand the impact, but at this time Bell plans to continue to follow CDC guidelines on social distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene and all other precautionary and preventative measures in effect across our sites,” she said.

At Alcon, another long-standing Fort Worth company that manufactures eye care products, employees are still abiding by face mask and social distancing requirements and working remotely whenever possible, spokesman Steven Smith said.

“Some governments where we operate have started lifting COVID-19 imposed restrictions (e.g. mandatory facemasks),” the company said in a statement provided by Smith. “Alcon is closely monitoring these revised policies. At this time, Alcon is keeping its current safety measures in place until it determines they are no longer necessary to ensure the continued safety of its associates.”