H-E-B requiring customers to wear face coverings

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
As of Wednesday, customers are now required to wear face coverings when entering many H-E-B grocery store locations, including those in Stephenville and Granbury.

Customers entering H-E-B stores in Stephenville, Granbury and multiple other store locations are now required to wear face coverings due to the COVID-19 pandemic — a new policy that went into effect Wednesday, July 1.

Signs are posted at H-E-B store entrances stating, “To protect the health and safety of our Partners and community, wearing a face covering is required. Exceptions apply for infants, young children and those with certain health issues. Together we can help slow the spread.”

July Danley, president and CEO of the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, indicated Wednesday evening that she did not know of any other retail businesses in Stephenville currently requiring customers to use face coverings or masks. She noted, “Most of the manufacturing plants do have mask policies for employees and visitors.”

A news release from H-E-B on the topic states:

“With the approval of Governor Abbott, many local governments in Texas have issued ordinances that require businesses to adopt Health and Safety plans that require customers to wear masks. H-E-B will follow all local ordinances.

“Currently, more than 85% of H-E-B stores operate in areas that have implemented local Health and Safety Plan ordinances that require people to wear masks or facial coverings in our stores. In these areas our stores see very strong compliance. In areas that do not have a local ordinance in place, H-E-B stores will require the use of masks or facial coverings. Exceptions are made for children and individuals with health-related issues.

“H-E-B also requires the use of masks or facial coverings by all our Partners (employees) and vendors in customer facing and close contact positions.

“The CDC, State of Texas, and local health officials strongly recommend the use of masks or facial coverings in public spaces as a proven way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Throughout the COVID crisis, H-E-B has worked closely with the Governor and his staff and we appreciate the collaborative work and advocacy to help keep Texans safe.

“As a proven way to slow the spread of the virus, mask use allows businesses to operate safely during the pandemic. Social distancing, wearing masks, proper hand washing, and sanitization are all things we do to help keep Texans healthy.”

No time frame has been given by H-E-B on how long the policy requiring customers to wear face masks will continue.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses were shut down under Gov. Abbott’s executive orders, H-E-B and other grocery stores were exempted because they are classified as essential businesses. H-E-B store hours were shortened at that time, but the current hours for the Stephenville location, at 2150 W. Washington St., are 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

H-E-B employees, referred to as partners, have been required to use facial masks since April 4, and gloves were also made available to them.

The news release continued:

“As an essential service provider at this time, masks and gloves are just another safeguard we’ve implemented across our company to protect the health and safety of our Partners, customers and communities,” said Martin Otto, H-E-B chief operating officer. “We are here for all Texans and we take our role to protect public safety seriously.”

All Partners must continue to follow H-E-B’s strict hygiene and sanitation measures as well as proper social distancing protocols. Partners who wear masks must keep them clean and maintain our high standards for hygiene and sanitation while at work.

“Partners who wear gloves must continue to frequently wash their hands and apply hand sanitizer. Gloves must also be regularly changed and properly discarded after use.”

The news release stated that each H-E-B store has a COVID action manager, “trained to ensure sanitation and social distancing procedures are properly followed.”

The news release continued, “We have also installed plexiglass partitions at all check stands, metered entry into stores, adopted crowd control guidelines to manage customer traffic, and placed floor decals to help identify proper social distance.

“Additionally, we conduct deep cleaning and sanitizing of stores and hard surfaces as well as fuel stations throughout the day, and utilize contactless home delivery to limit direct interaction. We require our Partners to stay home if they feel ill.

As we continue to monitor the spread of the pandemic, we are following guidance and advice from medical professionals and the CDC to make the best decisions regarding the health and safety of our Partners, customers and the communities we serve.”

More information on the policy can be found online through the H-E-B Newsroom at heb.com/newsroom.