What it means for you when Texas drops statewide mandates

CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- The decision to end the state's COVID-19 mandates is being welcomed by some Montgomery and Galveston County leaders, while many small businesses say it won't change a thing.

Starting Wednesday, March 10, the mandate requiring Texans to wear face coverings will come to an end.

READ MORE: Texas becomes biggest state to lift COVID-19 mask mandate
EMBED More News Videos

Gov. Greg Abbott's announcement Tuesday, March 2, makes Texas the largest state to do away with a face covering order.

"I've been waiting for that," said League City resident, Priscilla Askew. "I don't think these masks actually do anything for us."

Pearland resident Donnie Devault told ABC13, "I'm anxious, but I think a few more weeks, a month, shouldn't hurt anybody."

Meanwhile, League City resident said "she's done with masks" and she isn't the only one cheering on Gov. Greg Abbott's move. In Montgomery County, leaders have opposed the mandate since last summer.

"Thank you Governor Abbott for reopening the state," said Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough. "I think it's only appropriate. I think it's not just coincidental, it's appropriate you did it on Texas Independence Day."

WATCH: No more masks in Texas, but it comes with responsibility, Abbott says
EMBED More News Videos

Texans will no longer be required to wear a mask, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday, March 2, but he said it comes with "personal responsibility." Hit play to hear his explanation.

Keough said the decision to wear a mask falls on the individual, and business, not by a state mandate.
He anticipates when the mandate ends next week, people will begin to see a change.

"I don't have a crystal ball to tell you what will happen," Keough explained. "I suspect, though, there will be a lot of businesses that are going to pull down those mask mandates on their doors, and you're going to see things really open."

The timing, however, could impact the Houston-area tourism destination. The mandates end just days before Spring Break, with thousands of people expected to head to Galveston's beaches.

Some city leaders believe now is not the time for a full reopening while others welcome it.

"I'm, for one, glad the mask mandate is over," said Galveston City Councilor Marie Robb. "Most of the people who come for Spring Break come to the beach," she explained. "The beach has been declared safe. You're not required to wear a mask at the beach."

In Houston's Rice Village shopping area, several small businesses told ABC13 they will continue to ask customers to wear masks.

"We will definitely still have the mask order in place just to protect our employees and customers. We think it's the safest until we start to see the numbers going down and most of the population vaccinated," said Alissa Moyse with Almaza Jewelers.

SEE ALSO: 3 new COVID-19 variants emerging in Houston area, study findings show
EMBED More News Videos

The U.K. and South African variants have already been confirmed, but a new study expands the Houston area's variant count to five.

At Village Fitness, a small gym, trainers said a mask requirement is both good for health and business.

"If we decide not to have masks here anymore, the first person who sees us not wearing masks, they're going right back out that door and they've already been gone for months," explained trainer Curt Young. "So, we're going to keep the masks implemented."

WATCH: Some businesses say they plan to stick to COVID-19 rules
EMBED More News Videos

"I am a little fearful we're doing this a little too soon," said one Texas restaurant owner. ABC13's Jessica Willey shows you how businesses, many of which have been hit extremely hard by the pandemic, are adapting.

The Texas Restaurant Association applauds the governor's decision. The industry has been hit hard during the pandemic. The agency said about 11,000 eateries have closed this past year.

Removing the mandates, they believe, will help.

"For the thousands of local restaurants on the brink of closure and the 167,000 Texans who remain unemployed in the restaurant industry alone, Gov. Abbott's announcement [Tuesday] is a light at the very end of the tunnel," said Texas Restaurant Association President Emily Knight.

Eyewitness News asked Knight if restaurants will change the mask policy next week. She said it's too early to tell, but is encouraging owners to take steps to keep people safe.

"We're really encouraging those restaurants to look at their local area and talk to their guest that they built a relationship with and even more importantly talk to their employees," she said.

Tinku Saini, CEO and co-founder of Tarka Indian Kitchen, an Austin-based fast-casual restaurant with three Houston locations, said next week, even with restrictions lifted, all of their precautions will still be in place.

"Our employees are going to continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future. We are going to continue to keep tables and chairs spread apart, even though it's not mandated," explained Saini. "We are going to continue to take a very measured approach and not going to immediately rush to reopen and increase dining room capacity at this time."

Follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Jessica Willey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.