CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It was in July of 2020 when Governor Greg Abbot issued Executive Order No. GA-29, imposing a statewide mask order for several instances, including outdoor public spaces where social distancing was not feasible.
It was on March 2, 2021 — a little under a year later — when Executive Order GA-34 effectively rescinded GA-29 and other orders in their entirety.
Although many Texans had already long been unmasked outdoors, updated guidance Tuesday from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and President Joe Biden are now stating those who are fully-vaccinated are now able to be unmasked outdoors — with the exception of wearing a face covering during large gatherings like sporting events and concerts.
“I think we have to respect those places where we have to be required to wear a mask,” said Jude Ngome, a San Antonio man who was visiting the Bayfront along Shoreline Boulevard with his wife, two children and sister. “But in open areas like where we are right now — not putting on a mask, I don’t see any danger for myself, for my kids and for the rest of the people around me.”
Although the CDC never imposed a nationwide outdoor mask mandate, Ngome said hearing of the change is a step in the right direction.
“Obviously it’s good news because it’s not always comfortable having a mask on you all day,” he said.
But to others, the decision should have come much sooner.
“I think we should’ve been doing that in the beginning,” said Jared Shelton, who was visiting from the Dallas area. “If you were outside, then you’re not around a bunch of people — as long as it’s closed family, they test negative and no one has COVID then there’s no reasoning in my eyes (why it should be in place.)”
Shelton, who said he will continue to wear a mask around larger crowds, is part of a growing number of people who are opting not to receive the vaccine.
“It’s time for the world to get back to to what it was before the pandemic,” he said.
But for Sierra Shelton , a family member who is instead planning to get the vaccine to protect others; she says conversations between loved ones around the pandemic can be a challenge.
“I think it’s definitely causing a lot of controversy in-between families — its ripping people apart,” she said. “Whatever I can to do to make people feel healthier and safer, I want to do. But I also don’t want to feel like I should be able to force other people to do (anything) just because I’m doing it.”
And from El Paso, Joshua Jimenez, a healthcare worker, said he will keep his face mask handy well into the future.
“It’s in all of our best interest that if we’re in a large group to wear masks,” Jimenez said. “Coronavirus isn’t the only thing that’s spreadable — you can catch the flu from someone, you can catch a cold, it just helps, I think."
According to an online dashboard by the Texas Department of State Health Services, 32.7 percent of those over the age of 16 are fully-vaccinated in Nueces County.