Local businesses, school districts react to Abbott’s reopening announcement

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that effective March 10, any business in Texas can open at 100-percent capacity and that the statewide mask mandate is ending.

That is creating a conundrum for school districts and some local businesses who want to continue adhering to current safety protocols. Many of the area’s school districts are looking to the Texas Education Agency for further guidance.

IDEA Public Schools announced that the district will continue with all current safety protocols in schools across Texas, including health screenings before entering buildings, masks requirements and social distancing.

As of Tuesday evening, El Paso Independent School District is still following current safety protocols, tweeting on its Twitter page, “We are aware of Gov. Abbot’s announcement today in which he lifted mask mandates. EPISD will continue to follow all current safety protocols until we receive further guidance and information from the Texas Education Agency, as stated in the governor’s order.”

A second tweet following, saying: “Until such time, face masks will be required while on EPISD property. We will provide updates as information becomes available. Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe.”

The Socorro Independent School District also tweeted that it will continue following safety protocols currently in place.

“#TeamSISD will continue following all established COVID protocols to Keep SISD Safe! We are aware of the Governor’s announcement today and are seeking additional information/guidance from TEA. Unless otherwise directed by State, masks will continue to be required in our schools.”

San Elizario Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Meza-Chavez, wrote on the district’s website that SEISD “will continue with all safety measures in place, including the wearing of masks until further notice. We are aware of the Governor’s Executive Orders and are awaiting further guidance from TEA.”

The Ysleta Independent School District issued a statement saying the administration will continue following safety guidelines, including the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “We will await further guidance from the Texas Education Agency,” the statement says.

KTSM 9 News reached out to area restaurants and hotels to get their reaction to Tuesday afternoon’s announcement. Some El Paso businesses are ready to open, while others will proceed with caution, operating at less than 100 percent.

“We are excited that the governor is helping out Texas businesses. Here at the Plaza Hotel, we will continue to require both employees and guests to wear face coverings,” said general manager Francisco Buenrostro. He added that the hotel is still exploring its options about opening up the restaurant from 50 percent to 100 percent capacity.

Ruth Chris’ general manager Alex Luna said that while the company has “no formal opinion,” it will continue to follow CDC guidelines concerning mask use and will operate at 50 percent for safety.

Downtown restaurant Cafe Central said ir will continue to operate at 50-percent capacity and have no plans to expand.

“Employees will be required to wear face coverings,” said manager Acacia Silva. “Our patrons will not be required to wear facemasks after the new mandate goes into effect.”

Mohammed Aledehl, general manager of Applebee’s on North Mesa, said the decision is up to the company.

“Our priority is keeping employees and customers safe,” Aledehl said, adding that he believes masks will continue to be required even after the mandate expires and pointed to corporate making the final decision on occupancy.

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