"H-E-B strongly encourages the use [of] masks and requires it for all Partners and vendors," H-E-B said in a reply to another user on Twitter. "We ask that all our customers please wear masks in our stores. To protect the safety of our Partners, we will not engage in confrontation."
"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus," said Governor Abbott. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans."
Abbott noted that "COVID-19 has not disappeared" but he says "it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed."
"Now is too soon to return to normal, now is too soon to take away masking, now is too soon to forget about social distancing," said Dr. Mark Escott, the interim Medical Director and Health Authority for Austin Public Health.
In a city council briefing, Dr. Escott outlined the numbers, but he and the mayor also expressed concerns about lifting masking rules. "The danger we face by reducing those restrictions, particularly masking mandate which has really been the most effective public policy the governor has made, certainly has the potential to initiate a surge," said Escott.
Vaccination efforts remain strong in Travis County but Dr. Escott said just not enough people are inoculated, a reminder the pandemic will still be around for some time.