Businesses in Tomball have had mixed reactions after an executive order was signed in Harris County requiring all employees and patrons wear face masks in Harris County.
The order, which went into effect June 22 after being announced by County Judge Lina Hidalgo at a June 19 press conference, has drawn criticism and understanding from Tomball businesses.
John Cantu, founder of Icon Martial Arts Academy, said his staff and customers were all on board with the order.
“For me it makes common sense,” he said. “My students, parents and families here, they are all very on board with it.”
As a martial arts studio, Cantu said his students remain socially distant while performing in their classes.
“Once classes are dismissed we do virtual high fives, [the students] bow out and wash up,” he said.
Icon Martial arts has fans set up, sanitizer and signs to let its customers know they must follow the order.
“It is also a reminder that when we have a mask on we’re not going to touch our face as much,” he said.
Tomball restaurants have thought differently about the order and worried that this mask order will hurt business.
Fire Ant Brewing Co. Manager Sylvia Kissinger said the order has had an impact on the increased business she has seen as restaurant regulations had loosened.
“Now we are frustrated because this is hurting our business, and I’m sure everyone is feeling the same way,” she said.
Kissinger said the restaurant is complying and ensuring everything is safe with masks and sanitizer.
“Customers have been pretty good about it,” she said. “As soon as they sit down and have a glass of water they don’t have to [wear a mask] because they are drinking or eating.”
Although customers have been following the order, Kissinger said business has dropped over the past week.
“I understand we have to comply to slow this down, but it is hurting businesses,” she said.
Diego Copa, owner of Che Gaucho, said his staff have been wearing masks since the pandemic began, but he is concerned about how it affects his customers.
“We were taken aback by it having to be a mandate that everyone now entering the business would have to wear [a mask],” he said.
Copa said they have had to inform members of the public who were unaware that an order had been put in place.
“At the very beginning people weren’t aware ... there was some resistance of a third of the people that came in,” he said.
This has hurt some of Copa’s business as staffers have had to turn away people who would not wear a mask at all while in the restaurant.
“People were just upset at having to wear a mask, period, so they weren’t happy with us having to tell them that,” he said. “That meant for us possibly having to lose business from that customer.”
Copa said the possibility of receiving a $1,000 fine for having a customer in his restaurant without a mask meant that he has to enforce it.
“Unfortunately that is the case, and one of the customers we had to turn away is a customer that is there at least once a week,” he said. “Their loyalty means a lot to us, but [our] business [has] to comply with a greater mandate that would affect not just ourselves, but everyone else.”