Texas has ended statewide COVID restrictions, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is anywhere near over. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about what to expect in public places, particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, going forward:
Tarrant County ended its mask requirement Tuesday. Does that mean we’re already reopened at 100% and don’t have to wear masks?
Legally, mask requirements and business capacity restrictions are in place in Tarrant County until March 10, the date set by Gov. Greg Abbott in his executive order.
What can I expect if I go shopping?
Fort Worth area residents are likely to encounter a mix of mask requirements.
Hospitals and other medical facilities will still require visitors and employees to wear masks. Also, businesses including major retailers such as Walgreens, Target, Kroger and many others can still require customers to wear masks before entering their premises.
Many of those companies with locations across the nation are likely to continue to have a consistent policy requiring all employees and customers to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
That said, many other local businesses likely won’t wait until Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift COVID restrictions effective March 10. On Wednesday morning, fewer than 24 hours after Abbott’s announcement, a fitness gym in Northeast Tarrant County had already removed signs notifying guests to wear face masks, as well as the Plexiglass barriers that used to separate exercise machines.
What about colleges?
At TCU, face masks are still required on campus. The school is reviewing how to respond to the state’s decision to lift COVID restrictions, but no changes had been announced as of Wednesday afternoon.
Officials at the UT Arlington also say their mask requirements on campus will remain in effect until they have fully researched the impact of Abbott’s announcement.
Is it safe to gather in crowds?
Health experts say it’s not safe.
After Abbott’s announcement, the Texas Hospital Association implored residents to wear masks.
“We know that it works. It protects health care workers and the people around you,” the association said in a statement issued Tuesday. “More infectious variants are circulating in Texas, and millions more people need to be vaccinated. We should still be doing everything we can to protect each other.”
How big will crowds be at Texas Rangers baseball games?
The club’s leadership is still trying to figure out how Abbott’s decision affects capacity at the new Globe Life Field in Arlington, which can hold 43,000 fans. But it appears that the door has been opened to sell most or all seats.
However, club officials say they’re still discussing how the order might affect ticket sales, and they want to make sure they can follow health and safety protocols no matter how many seats are sold.
During the fall, Globe Life Field hosted the World Series, and allowed about 11,000 fans per game.
Will public schools eliminate mask requirements and remote learning?
The Texas Education Agency said Wednesday that school boards have the full authority to determine their local mask policy.