H-E-B officials confirmed via email June 30 that all stores will require shoppers and employees to wear masks beginning July 1.

Lisa Helfman, public affairs director at H-E-B Houston, said in an emailed statement that more than 85% of H-E-B stores are already operating under mandatory mask ordinances set by local governments, so this move will extend the order to all other stores. Numerous Texas cities and counties began announcing mandatory mask orders in mid-June.

"As an essential service provider during the pandemic, H-E-B is focused on the health and safety of our partners, customers and continuous service to our communities," she said, "Masks are a proven way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow businesses to operate safely during the pandemic."

At a June 30 Fort Bend County Commissioners Court meeting, H-E-B President Scott McClelland said he believes masks are an important component in keeping communities safe. In communities that do not have a mask ordinance, McClelland said the company has seen mask usership fall below 50%—with Montgomery County H-E-B stores seeing only about 30% of shoppers wear masks.

"We have an opportunity here to choose life," he said at the meeting. "At the same time, I understand the pressure in terms of looking at the business component of this, but if we don't choose life ... we will be deemed by history harshly in terms of our responsibility to manage our way through the coronavirus."

Additional reporting by Claire Shoop