Texas has ended statewide COVID restrictions, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is anywhere near over.
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about what to expect in public places, particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, going forward:
Will Fort Worth schools return to 100% in-person learning?
No. The Fort Worth district plans to continue offering the current combination of in-person and remote classes, as allowed by the Texas Education Agency.
“Our plan is to follow current TEA guidance,” spokesman Clint Bond said. “It allows us to continue in our current hybrid model of virtual and in-person. We will continue to do that.”
Will public schools end mask requirements?
The Texas Education Agency said Wednesday that masks are generally required for students, teachers and staff, with some exceptions, but a school board may change or eliminate the mask requirement.
“Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy,” the agency said in a news release.
The Fort Worth school district officials say they plan to continue to follow their existing guidelines, including mask-wearing and other COVID-19 safety protocols.
Do I still have to wear a mask in Tarrant County?
Legally, mask requirements and business capacity restrictions are in place in Tarrant County until March 10, the date set by Gov. Greg Abbott in his executive order.
Will I need to wear a mask when I go shopping?
Fort Worth area residents are likely to encounter a mix of mask requirements.
Hospitals and other medical facilities will still require visitors and employees to wear masks. Also, businesses including major retailers such as Walgreens, Target, Kroger and many others can still require customers to wear masks before entering their premises.
Many of those companies with locations across the nation are likely to continue to have a consistent policy requiring all employees and customers to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
That said, many other local businesses likely won’t wait until Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift COVID restrictions effective March 10. On Wednesday morning, fewer than 24 hours after Abbott’s announcement, a fitness gym in Northeast Tarrant County had already removed signs notifying guests to wear face masks, as well as the Plexiglass barriers that used to separate exercise machines.
Is there a list of establishments that will still follow COVID protocols?
Visit Fort Worth, the city’s tourism marketing arm, has begun compiling a list of stores, restaurants, museums and other public places that have pledged to continue requiring or “strongly encouraging” customers to wear masks. That list is part of Visit Fort Worth’s Stay Strong campaign and can be found on the group’s website.
Are masks required at TCU and UTA?
At TCU, face masks are still required on campus. The school is reviewing how to respond to the state’s decision to lift COVID restrictions, but no changes had been announced as of Wednesday afternoon.
Officials at UT Arlington also say their mask requirements on campus will remain in effect until they have fully researched the impact of Abbott’s announcement.
Is it finally safe to gather in crowds?
Health experts say it’s not safe.
After Abbott’s announcement, the Texas Hospital Association implored residents to wear masks.
“We know that it works. It protects health care workers and the people around you,” the association said in a statement issued Tuesday. “More infectious variants are circulating in Texas, and millions more people need to be vaccinated. We should still be doing everything we can to protect each other.”
How many fans will the Texas Rangers allow at Globe Life Field?
The club’s leadership is still trying to figure out how Abbott’s decision affects capacity at the new Globe Life Field in Arlington, which can hold 43,000 fans. But it appears that the door has been opened to sell most or all seats.
However, club officials say they’re still discussing how the order might affect ticket sales, and they want to make sure they can follow health and safety protocols no matter how many seats are sold.
During the fall, Globe Life Field hosted the World Series, and allowed about 11,000 fans per game.