MONTGOMERY CO., Texas - Governor Abbott’s announcement Tuesday is being received differently by different communities, and in Montgomery County, the change will be barely noticed.
Local officials never fully accepted the governor’s mandates to begin with.
The Montgomery County judge did little to enforce the mask mandate when Governor Abbott issued it last July. He was critical of the governor’s mandate on businesses. And the sheriff even said back in July, his deputies would not enforce mask-wearing.
So many residents and businesses in the county followed suit, taking a more casual approach to pandemic safety.
"As far as our business goes, I don’t think it will impact us," said Paul Groman, manager of Majkszak’s Meat Market in Conroe, reacting to the lifted restrictions.
He says the meat market isn’t planning to change anything due to the Governor’s new executive order rescinding the mask mandate and allowing businesses to return to 100 percent occupancy. They’ve already been going without masks and allowing customers to do so too.
"Our judge kind of in charge of our area—he was not enforcing that as far as the masks go, so we left it up to anyone walking in," said Groman. "It’s up to them."
Customers like Glenn Snively were seen walking in with a mask, then taking it off when they realized no one else was wearing one.
"Well, ain’t nobody in here wearing one, so I figured, what the heck," said Snively.
He says his strategy the whole pandemic has been to follow the crowd. He hasn’t caught COVID-19 yet.
"If you wearing them, I wear one," said Snively. "If not, I say okay."
Groman says the casual approach does not mean they are anti-maskers.
"Anybody who wants to wear a mask—they’re free to wear it—and we’re not gonna give them a hard time about it at all," said Groman.
At Metroflex Gym in Conroe, the owner says she’ll no longer require her members to wear masks thanks to the governor’s new order.
"I’m not gonna require anyone anymore after this, but if they want to wear one, of course, they’re able to wear it," said owner Kimberly Minter.
Several gym members told FOX 26 they are relieved to be allowed to breathe freely while they work out once again, including Willie Acklan who used to work out with two masks on.
"It’s a strain of breathing," said Acklan. "You have to pace yourself a lot more carefully."
His wife Sylvie Acklan says at one point during the pandemic she avoided the gym completely due to the struggle to breathe while working out in addition to sweat beneath the mask causing breakouts.
"It’s difficult for your breathing," said Sylvie. "The oils come out on your face, and I would have breakouts ... I’m more appreciative that that’s going away."
The governor’s full executive order goes into effect on March 10.