A day after Gov. Greg Abbott said he would lift Texas’s mask requirement and allow businesses to fully reopen, several companies said they would continue to require face coverings in the state. But industry groups are worried that businesses will not be able to enforce such policies once Texas and other states no longer require masks.
Target and Macy’s said they would continue to require customers and employees to wear masks in their Texas outlets. And Kroger, the grocery chain, said it would require everyone in its stores nationwide to wear masks until its frontline workers are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The responsibility for mask enforcement will likely fall on the shoulders of frontline workers, who have been repeatedly harassed by customers who refuse to adhere to the policies.
“We support governors reopening their economies and giving beleaguered restaurants and other small businesses the opportunity to rebuild and rehire workers,” said Jason Brewer, the executive vice president of communications for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “But going backward on safety measures will unfairly put retail employees back in the role of enforcing guidelines still recommended by the C.D.C. and other public health advocates.”
Texas officials had done little to enforce their own mask policies, largely relying on businesses and social stigma to uphold the rules. The role individuals and businesses play will now become even more important, some industry executives said.
“As we have seen throughout the pandemic, states and municipalities have mandated mask policies, yet have failed to provide any enforcement mechanisms,” Bill Thorne, an executive at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.
Small business owners in Texas posted mixed reactions to the Mr. Abbott’s announcement on LinkedIn.
“We are so thankful that our local restaurants and other businesses that survive on retail/walk-in consumers are going to be able to get back to it,” wrote Jerry Drew, the chief executive of Network Thermostat, an electronics manufacturer in Grapevine, near Dallas. “Happy Days!”
Others were not so enthusiastic.
“I think the governor’s decision is a bad one,” wrote Gary Murray Sr., the owner of a fencing club in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin. “It is premature, reckless and I truly believe that he is being pressured by outside sources with no regard for health and safety.”
Philanthropic giving in response to the Covid-19 pandemic topped $20 billion last year, orders of magnitude more than past disasters, man-made or natural, according to a report released Wednesday by the groups Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.
The total includes global giving by foundations, corporations, public charities and wealthy individuals.
“It’s far and away more than we have ever seen for disasters,” said Grace Sato, director of research at Candid. “It’s an overused term to say unprecedented, but I would say funding for Covid-19 has been unprecedented in terms of giving.”
By comparison, Candid found only $1 billion in gifts responding to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and just $362 million for the Ebola crisis in West Africa less than a decade ago.
Demands on frontline charities have grown even as they face immense financial pressure. The Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University estimated that nearly 1 million jobs had been lost in the nonprofit sector in the United States from the start of the pandemic through January 2021, a 7.7 percent decline from February 2020.
The needs created by lockdowns, shortages of medical equipment and millions of deaths were unusual, but many of the names leading the way in giving last year are familiar. Among foundations, the two biggest givers were the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which pledged $1.33 billion in response to the crisis, and the Rockefeller Foundation, which pledged more than $1.1 billion.
Corporations were responsible for 44 percent of total giving, with Google’s…