DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s official. With capacity limits and statewide mask mandates ending, Texas is inching closer to a pre-pandemic normal. Nevertheless, the governor’s decision — delighting some and enraging others — also risks becoming the latest divisive flashpoint in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s kind of like ‘damned if we do and damned if we don’t,'” said Amanda Terilli Loyd, managing partner of Terilli’s on Lower Greenville in Dallas, “and it’s going to be really hard to figure out how to draw that line.”READ MORE: 'I'm Afraid We're Going To See A Surge Of Violence' Says Texas Criminologist Following Recent Mass Shootings
Loyd no doubt speaks for many businesses working to both keep employees healthy and customers happy.
“There are going to be people that come in here that do not want to wear a mask — they haven’t ever wanted to wear the mask — and there are still people that are going to be concerned,” said Loyd. “It puts us in a position where we have to police our customers. And we don’t want to have to do that.”
Terilli’s will not require customers to wear masks, although employees will. They will also continue other safety protocols like constant sanitizing, plastic dividers between booths and paper menus. Her hope is that customers will not notice many changes.
“To be honest, the guests would come in here. They’d walk in with a mask. They’d take it off to eat. I don’t really see a huge difference in them just walking in the door– when they have the mask off 90% of the time when they’re in here, anyway,” said Loyd. “So I hope that people do feel comfortable with some people walking in without a mask. I hope we can find that fine line in between what people are comfortable with.”READ MORE: Texas Grand Jury To Consider Charges In Shooting Death Of Protester Garrett Foster Last Summer
Still, Texans ready to explore a world without masks should expect a mixed bag of rules. So, Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association, says owners are being encouraged to be clear with expectations.
“Let them know up front, that way they can choose: maybe they do delivery or take out,” said Knight. She says some 700 members polled said they will continue to require employees to wear masks, while asking customers for grace.
“I’m definitely not native,” said Knight. “We’re going to have some examples of people who are going to be unhappy. So, we are really urging citizens, to identify that restaurant’s principals: if you don’t agree, don’t walk away. Don’t cause pain on that restaurant. They’ve had enough pain this year. Find another way to interact with them. There are options available.”
As for lunchtime diner Tyler Raughton, he says he’s comfortable dining without a mask, but has no problem complying when businesses request it.MORE NEWS: As Pandemic Restrictions Ease, Child Abuse Reports Rise In North Texas
“Hasn’t been a problem,” said Raughton, “kinda feels weird without it on.”