Texas and Mississippi made a splash last week when the governors of both states retracted executive orders requiring mask wearing in public spaces. But businesses in those states are still requiring customers to wear masks, provoking a fresh slew of outrage from those who think masks interfere with their breathing, their thinking, or their constitutional rights.
“COVID has not suddenly disappeared,” said Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, on March 2, 2021, as he announced an end to all pandemic-related restrictions in the state. “But it is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations, and from the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed.”
On March 9, the day before Abbot’s order officially rescinded the mask mandate, 184 Texans died of COVID-19, down from the state’s 2021 high of 480 deaths on January 27.
Many businesses in Texas don’t feel the improvements call for an end to precautions, so they are still requiring customers to wear masks.
Let us be very clear: businesses are allowed to set the terms by which customers access their services in most instances. “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” isn’t a law anywhere, either, yet no one would blink at seeing that sign on a gas station door. Fine dining establishments are allowed to enforce a black-tie dress code. Pools are allowed to require you only wear swimwear in their facility. Following this logic, any business can require customers to properly wear protective masks to enter their premises. So if you see a “Masks Required” sign on a business door or in a nearby window, you have absolutely no grounds to raise a fuss.
Businesses are not required to abide by the Constitution—the U.S. Constitution only guides interactions between the people and the government, so your “constitutional right” not to wear a mask doesn’t exist. One other thing you should know: There is no such thing as a protected medical exemption from mask requirements inside businesses.
According to Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and law enforcement expert for ABC News, if a business has its dress code requirements clearly marked on entrance, non-compliance can result in a criminal trespass charge, or worse if things escalate.
“In most states, criminal trespass is either a misdemeanor or even an infraction,” Garrett explained, and added, “typically people that would be contrary enough not to wear a mask may be more inclined to make an issue of not wearing a mask.”