Students respond to lifted mask mandate order

Karina Garcia, Riptide Anchor

As issued by Governor Greg Abbott, beginning March 10 Executive Order GA-34 will be going into full effect thus lifting the mask mandate and allowing all businesses and facilities in the state of Texas to open to 100% capacity.

The order has received both praise and backlash from Texans all around. Helen Chay, a senior in Communication Studies, said she is afraid and fearful that many will not be responsible enough to practice social distancing or wear a mask without the mandate in place. “I am very concerned that covid might rise again, especially with everyone not having their shots. So I am very worried and I don’t want to go backwards, especially to school being 100% online,” said Chay.

Similarly, Theresa Flores, a senior in Communications said she is very worried, especially for her three children in school. “I am worried about the teachers as well, I know it is hard to keep all those kids away from each other and even though the mask is not 100% protection, it is still something. So I am worried about the kids, and really if the schools are going to have to abide by whatever Abbott says,” commented Flores.

Flores also mentioned she would not feel safe going into a business or a facility where people are not wearing their masks. “I know right now we all kind of hide behind our masks and it gives us a sense of security, but when that is taken away, as a parent, we (Flores’s family) will retract back from probably going out to restaurants and other things that right now we freely to go to because everyone has to wear a mask,” said Flores.

Despite the executive order, independent businesses and facilities have the right to implement their own COVID-19 safety protocols and precautions. Additionally, according to the Texas Governor press release, “If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies.”

The Executive Order also prohibits County Judges from implementing any legal penalties, sentencing jail-time to those who fail to follow COVID-19 orders or those who fail to use face coverings. COVID-19 restrictions placed by counties cannot reduce “capacity to less than 50% for any type of entity.” However, the CDC and other health experts recommend that everyone continue following COVID-19 guidelines in order to help reduce the spread.