Employees at a Mexican restaurant in Texas said customers threatened to call ICE on them for keeping a mask mandate

A person wearing a protective mask disinfects tables at an outdoor restaurant in Greenwich Village on February 15, 2021, in New York City.

  • A Mexican restaurant in Texas received messages from customers saying they'll report the staff to ICE, The Washington Post reported.

  • The Mexican restaurant, Picos, announced it would continue the mask mandate in its facility.

  • That decision went against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order Tuesday, which rolled back statewide mask mandates.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Restaurant workers in Texas said diners threatened to report them to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after they continued to uphold the mask mandate in their facility.

Monica Richards, the co-owner of Picos, in Houston, told The Washington Post her restaurant would continue to enforce mask-wearing despite an order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott saying the opposite. Angered by the decision, customers sent her and her staff threatening messages over social media and by phone. They threatened to report the staff to ICE, she told The Post.

"It was just horrific," Richards told The Post. "People don't understand unless you're in our business what it felt like, how hard it was to go through everything we went through during COVID. For people to be negative toward us for trying to remain safe, so that this doesn't continue to happen, just makes zero sense to us."

Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order that allowed the state's businesses to open 100%. And starting on March 10, Abbott said, the state's mask mandate will be lifted.

Most Texans have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine. Just over 8% of the state's population has been vaccinated, vaccine-tracker data from Johns Hopkins University showed. Meanwhile, Texas has been rebounding from a devastating winter storm that led to disruptions in vaccine operations in the state.

Health officials have been sounding the alarms about relaxing COVID-19 restrictions like mask-wearing. Mask-wearing for months has been one of the guidelines that various health agencies have touted as most effective for preventing the spread of the coronavirus in public spaces. But some states – such as Texas, Mississippi, Montana, Iowa, and North Dakota – have rolled back or announced plans to end mask mandates.

Americans are also largely against relaxing such restrictions. An ABC News-IPSOS poll released Sunday said 56% of Americans surveyed believe that government officials are loosening mask mandates too quickly.

Abbott's executive order contradicts the guidance from health officials like Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who cautioned that despite three FDA-approved vaccines on the market, "now is not the time to relax restrictions."

The decision to roll back the mask mandate forces restaurant owners to make a decision on their own when it comes to COVID-19 safety restrictions.

It's been almost a year since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. More than 28 million people in the United States have contracted the virus in that time, the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed. Over 500,000 Americans have died.

JHU data showed that in Texas, there have been more than 2.6 million confirmed cases, with more than 45,000 deaths.

Read the original article on Insider