The masks are coming off, but not all at once.
Many restaurants, retailers and other businesses across the Dallas-Fort Worth region are already loosening their COVID mask requirements, a day after the CDC released new guidelines showing that it’s no longer essential for those who have been vaccinated to wear masks indoors or outdoors while in public.
Sprouts Farmers Market, which operates grocery stores across North Texas, will now “strongly encourage” but no longer require customers to wear masks. Other major retailers such as Walmart and Walgreens said they were reviewing their policies in light of the new CDC guidelines.
But it may be awhile before everyone returns to the practice of exposing their noses and chins to the world while shopping.
A quick check of retail stores in Northeast Tarrant County on Friday showed little noticeable change. At a Target store in Watauga, every customer visible from the front of the store appeared to be masked up, in compliance with the company’s nationwide requirement.
In east Fort Worth, the owner of Black Coffee Fort Worth, which opened in November 2019 near Texas Wesleyan University, said she intends to keep her mask requirement for customers and employees until June 1. But after that date, masks will be optional — “mask preferred” — for customers.
Employees will still wear masks while on duty after June 1, owner Mia Moss said.
“We just want to make sure we are keeping our staff safe,” she said. “Businesses are kind of easing into it.”
The new CDC guidelines also won’t change much on buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. The federal government has extended the face mask requirement on mass transit through Sept. 13.
“Trinity Metro will continue following the federal mandate that requires passengers and employees to wear face masks in the agency’s facilities and on board all buses, trains and other public transit vehicles,” Wayne Gensler, vice president and chief operating officer at Trinity Metro, said in an email.
Trinity Metro operates buses in the Fort Worth area as well as the TEXRail commuter train, and also is co-owner of the Trinity Railway Express commuter line.