Masks no longer required as Tomball, Magnolia businesses operate at full capacity

Starting March 10, Texans are no longer required by law to wear masks in public and businesses can operate at full capacity. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Starting March 10, Texans are no longer required by law to wear masks in public and businesses can operate at full capacity. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Starting March 10, Texans are no longer required by law to wear masks in public and businesses can operate at full capacity. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

With Texans no longer required by law to wear masks in public and businesses now able to operate at full capacity, Tomball and Magnolia business owners are varied in their reactions to navigating the new environment.



“Businesses that I have spoken with are working to address the end of the mandate making certain that their employees remain safe along with being considerate of customers—ensuring a safe and welcoming environment to their establishment,” said Bruce Hillegeist, Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce president, in an emailed statement.



Gov. Greg Abbott announced in early March that he would lift his statewide mask mandate and allow businesses to operate at full capacity starting March 10. Since the announcement, local officials have responded with expressions of support and opposition to the decision.



Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough welcomed the decision, whereas Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo expressed concern on rescinding the restrictions amid the ongoing pandemic.



Many local businesses such as Martha’s Mexican Restaurant, which opened in April 2020, saw losses amid the pandemic’s early shutdowns and subsequent reduced capacities. Co-owner Blanca Luna said the restaurant's first year of business was tough to get through.



“There are times when people don't want to wait until [other customers] finish eating to ... eat, so then we lost half of the business,” Luna said in Spanish. “It was our first year [and] ... many people did not know we were here. ... We hope that this year ... things will be a little better for us.”



According to Sandy Barton, Greater Magnolia Parkway Chamber of Commerce president, allowing businesses to operate at full capacity will help support financial losses felt throughout the pandemic.



“Many of these businesses have been struggling due to the limitation of capacity because they don't necessarily work on margins that were covered by these limitations, and they need their customers to have access to them in order for them to be able to be contributing members of society,” Barton said.



While the ability to operate at full capacity is expected to offer financial gains, some business owners believe the decision was too premature to make. According to an informal survey conducted by the membership-based Texas Restaurant Association in early March, approximately 73% of restaurant owners will continue to require staff to wear masks, while almost 44% of respondents will not require customers to wear facial coverings.



Magnolia Diner business owner Manu Patel said his business also suffered amid the many shutdowns, freezes and restrictions felt in the last year. Despite this, Patel said the requirement actually helped to ease people’s concerns about going out amid the pandemic.



Patel said his staff will continue to wear masks and recommends his customers wear them, too, considering that the eatery serves an older clientele that is more vulnerable to COVID-19.



“I also feel it's a little early in the game to remove the mask mandate, but it's up to people now, so people will, I'm sure, continue to wear them to protect themselves and others,” he said. “[Our] first duty is to protect our staff and second duty is to protect all our customers.”



Despite having to cancel some in-person events at the pandemic’s onset, Comix Cafe business owner Darrin Stringfield said his clientele easily transitioned into wearing masks in store as long as they were still able to get out and play games with friends.



“Our [mask] requirement hasn't changed at all, and so far it's been pretty well received by our customer base as well—they completely understand,” Stringfield said. “Now that it's up to the businesses, that's the route that we've chosen.”



Jack Flagler, Hannah Zedaker and Vanessa Holt contributed to this report.

By


MOST RECENT

Lone Star College-Magnolia Center will be a satellite campus of LSC-Montgomery, which is pictured. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Construction anticipated to begin this summer for Lone Star College-Magnolia Center

“It’s been an adventure. It’s been one hurdle after another but ... I believe we are in the home stretch here," LSC-Montgomery President Rebecca Riley said.

Imperio Wine & Spirits sells a variety of liquor, beer, wine and spirits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Imperio Wine & Spirits opens in Katy; Montgomery Chick-fil-A to open dining room and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

In addition to constructing a new 43-acre campus, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 will be buying a fleet of 40 new ambulances and hiring 150 new staff. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Executive director gives preview of ESD 11 Mobile Health Services

In addition to constructing a new 43-acre campus, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 will be buying a fleet of 40 new ambulances and hiring 150 new staff.

Todd’s Auto Shop officially opened in its new location at 32000 Hwy. 249, Pinehurst, on April 1. (Courtesy Todd's Auto Shop)
Masones Pub & Grill opens in Northpointe, Todd's Auto Repair relocates: 4 business updates in Tomball, Magnolia

Todd’s Auto Shop officially opened in its new location at 32000 Hwy. 249, Pinehurst, on April 1.

See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year

While some school districts in the Greater Houston area are doing away with face mask requirements and virtual schooling completely, others are pivoting to continue offering online learning options for students and plan to require face masks.

masks
CDC ends all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people

The guidance states fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Construction is underway for an expansion to the criminal justice building in Magnolia. (Screenshot via Montgomery County Precinct 2)
Sheriff's Office expansion underway in Magnolia

An expansion underway on Unity Park Drive in Magnolia will reduce the time local law enforcement agencies spend traveling to Conroe, Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said.

Single-family home sales were up 47.4% compared to last April with 9,105 units sold versus 6,175 a year earlier. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
HAR: Houston-area home sales in April up 47% compared to last year

Single-family home sales were up 47.4% compared to April 2020.

House Bill 1024, signed into law May 12, allows restaurants and bars to permanently sell alcoholic beverages to-go. (Courtesy Pexels)
Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott signs change into law May 12

Supporters say the change will help restaurants continue to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

New details could emerge soon on the potential use of underground tunnels to carry flood water in Harris County, and officials voted May 11 to dedicate an additional $3.26 million to study efforts along Buffalo Bayou. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
County commissioners expand scope of flood tunnel study as next phase nears completion

New details could emerge soon on the potential use of underground tunnels to carry flood water in Harris County, and officials voted May 11 to dedicate an additional $3.26 million to study efforts along Buffalo Bayou.

Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services provides a variety of services to assist eligible people with disabilities in preparing for, obtaining, retaining or advancing in competitive integrated employment. Similarly, Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast is a public workforce system in the 13-county Houston-Galveston region of Texas that helps employers meet their human resources needs and individuals build careers. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services to relocate from Tomball to Willowbrook

Six vocational rehabilitation staff with the Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services will move May 18 from 444 Holderrieth Blvd., Ste. 3, Tomball to the Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast office located at 17725 Hwy. 249, Houston, according to a May 11 news release.

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.