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As Bexar County orders businesses to require masks, some had already made it a mandate

"It's for the safety not just for our employees, but for the folks sitting around them as well."

SAN ANTONIO — Known for its long history feeding San Antonians, La Familia Cortez's restaurants has always brought people together. But now they're adding another ingredient to their tradition, one they hope keeps everyone safe.

"We reopened on May 22nd and we reopened with a number of new protocols," said Chief Operating Officer Pete Cortez.

Those new protocols are obvious when walking into Mi Familia at the Rim—hand sanitizer bottles, stickers encouraging social distancing and boxes of gloves are scattered about. But the most notable change is declared on a sign that reads "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Mask, no Service."

"It's for the safety not just for our employees, but for the folks sitting around them as well," Cortez said via a Zoom interview.

For a few weeks, all employees and customers have been required to wear masks when moving around the restaurant. When seated, they can take it off. It's a measure all commercial businesses will soon have to take after the issuing of a new executive order from local leaders on Wednesday, but one Cortez says shouldn't have so much pushback.

"I don't really honestly see why this should be an issue for anyone just to wear a mask until they're seated in a restaurant, or even, frankly, walking through a grocery store," he said. 

It's a sentiment David Spener echoed over the phone. The San Antonio resident created a change.org petition asking H-E-B to once again require masks inside. It gathered nearly 40,000 signatures in just four days. 

"I didn't expect it blow it up the way it did," Spener said. "A lot of people care a lot about it."

The order, adopted by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and supported by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, requires businesses to implement a safety plan that includes, at minimum, requiring customers to wear masks when social distancing isn't feasible. 

Businesses must implement the policy by Monday. H-E-B has already confirmed it will, saying, in part: "In collaboration with the local order and our government officials, effective Monday June 22, H-E-B stores in Bexar County will require masks or facial coverings to be used by all customers. The CDC and State health officials strongly support the use of facial coverings in public as a proven way to slow the spread of COVID-19."

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