Target, Macy’s, Kroger, and more say they will still require masks, despite Texas and other states rolling back COVID-19 restrictions

Greg abbott coronavirus
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
  • Some big companies in Texas will still require staff to wear masks, even after the state drops its mask mandate.
  • Carmakers Toyota and General Motors are among the firms in Texas sticking to federal advice.
  • Macy’s and Target still require all customers and employees to wear masks in stores across the US.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Major US companies in Texas said Tuesday their employees would continue to wear masks to protect themselves and others against COVID-19, despite the state lifting a mask mandate and other restrictions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Tuesday to allow the state’s businesses to open “100%” and to end the state’s mask mandate, effective March 10. This was despite federal health officials warning against relaxing restrictions.

Some firms are sticking to their current rules.

Grocery chain Kroger said it will  require masks for customers and employees “until all our frontline grocery associates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine” according to a statement from a company spokesperson.

Japanese carmaker Toyota, which has its US headquarters in Plano and a factory in San Antonio, said it was looking into Abbott’s order, but wasn’t making any immediate changes. The company employs more than 7,000 people in Texas.

“Toyota intends to maintain its COVID-19 health and safety protocols in its properties at this time, including the use of face coverings,” a Texas spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.

Similarly, General Motors said it would ensure its Texas employees wear masks in the workplace. The firm has around 13,500 workers in the state.

“GM will continue its workplace safety protocols (including mask wearing) to protect employee health,” A GM spokesman told Insider.

Retail store Target would still require customers and employees to wear masks in all of its US stores, a company spokesperson told Insider. The US firm said it would provide its staff with reusable and disposable masks. “Those who have been vaccinated for coronavirus are still required to wear a mask and follow all social distancing guidelines, in line with current CDC guidance” the spokesperson said.

Department-store chain Macy’s echoed Target’s comments. It was not changing its policy of requiring customers and workers to wear masks, it told Reuters.

Mississippi’s governor, Tate Reeves, also announced on Tuesday that his state would fully reopen. Insider has reached out to Toyota to ask whether the company is keeping its rules in its factory in the state.

The governors of Iowa and Montana lifted compulsory mask-wearing in public on February 5 and 15 respectively. North Dakota’s mask mandate expired in January.

Abbott’s announcement came one day after Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Americans should stick to public-health recommendations to prevent a fourth surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close,” she said at a White House press briefing on Monday.