COVID-19 is ‘still out there.’ Have people in Fort Worth already let their guard down?

Luke Ranker, Brian Lopez
·4 min read

Little had changed in the Fort Worth area a day after Gov. Greg Abbott said Texans would no longer have to follow coronavirus safety measures.

Fort Worth businesses had mixed reactions Tuesday, with some saying they would immediately stop enforcing COVID protocols while others said they would continue social distancing and requiring masks.

Although Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley rescinded his order Tuesday and Fort Worth declined to extend a similar citywide order, the business limits and mask mandates remain in effect until March 10, the date Abbott’s order takes effect.

Across Fort Worth and Arlington, residents appeared to be behaving as if COVID-19 precautions would still be the norm.

Lorene Brown, an employee at Target on South Cooper Street in Arlington, said Wednesday morning that she had seen more customers than usual who didn’t want to wear a mask or took them off. Following the governor’s announcement, she feels people are much more relaxed.

Brown would’ve liked if officials kept the mask mandate as she fears not only for her family, but others as well.

“No matter what, it is still out there,” she said.

Target had low traffic Wednesday morning, but most customers wore face coverings. Target’s corporate office told McClatchy that stores in Texas will continue to require staff and customers to wear masks. Brown said the Arlington Target will continue to enforce, but it can be difficult with some customers.

At the Kroger in Alliance Town Center, more than 40 shoppers browsed for groceries over the noon hour. Just two were seen without masks. One man left his car without one, but promptly returned to grab a surgical mask.

At an Arlington Kroger off South Cooper most customers and shoppers were wearing masks as usual.

In Sundance Square, Buffalo Bros staff will continue to follow COVID-19 protocols such as masking, but will not require its customers to wear masks, said employee Cari Grubbs.

Most customers wore masks, Grubbs said, and she expects most people to continue wearing masks.

Around Sundance Square, most people in shops and restaurants wore masks. Across town, the Shops at Clearfork had sparse foot traffic, but people seen walking into stores wore masks.

Katherina Wierschke wore a mask as she walked in downtown Fort Worth by herself. She is a firm believer that the mandate shouldn’t have been rescinded.

“The consequences are people dying,” Wierschke said. “I don’t really understand, I mean, it doesn’t cost you anything to wear a mask.”

Wierschke fears that people that only wore a mask because of the mandate will feel emboldened to not wear one. It’s selfish because people could be spreading COVID-19 without even knowing.

On the other hand, Samantha Weber of Fort Worth was without a mask outside in downtown Fort Worth. She said she’s happy the mandate is gone because she felt it was a way to control people. If people want to wear masks, they can choose that for themselves.

Of roughly a dozen people shopping at the Tom Thumb at 6377 Camp Bowie late Wednesday morning, only one man in a check out line was without a mask.

Across the street at the Sprouts, large signs telling customers to wear a mask were still on display and everyone going into the store donned face coverings.

Whitney Smith was on her way into the store with a masks in her hand. She said her employer was still discussing how to proceed with Abbott’s rollback, but she said she would likely keep wearing masks to protect others.

“I don’t like it. I don’t think any of us do,” she said. “I’ll probably still wear the masks out to help everyone else.”

Next door at Orange Theory, a Florida-based fitness studio, Lindsay Bordelon said the company was still evaluating whether or not to require masks. A survey had gone out to staff to gauge what employees were most comfortable with and Bordelon said she had heard a variety of opinions from customers. Some wanted to keep masks and increase occupancy while other seemed comfortable keeping occupancy lower while not requiring masks.

“A lot of people have asked what we’re going to do,” she said. “There’s a lot of different options.”

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