HOUSTON – As Houston and Harris County gets ready to isolate even more with a stay-home-work-safe order from local leaders Tuesday, officials say violators could face jail time and fines.
Law enforcement officials in the city and county have been told it’s up to them to enforce this order. Both the Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and the Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo say they will try to educate the public, but severe violators will face punishment.
Houstonians were seen crowded outside a beauty supply store Tuesday, trying to get last-minute items before the store closed as part of the order.
“We are going to use common sense,” Acevedo said. “We are going to use courtesy and we are going to ask people when they think they are doing something that is a violation of this order. We are going to ask people to comply and we believe that by using some compassion and some common courtesy, we will be able to be just fine.”
Both agencies say officers will be looking for areas where there are gatherings to disperse the crowd and educate them. Acevedo also foresees situations where people might go out of their way to break the order.
“Some bar opening up and letting 100 people in there, that’s different than all the sudden we have 12 people at a family gathering at a party,” he said.
Gonzales said his agency will focus on “the (businesses) that are supposed to be closed and even those allowed to remain open.”
“For the businesses that are essential, (we will) make sure that their employees are maintaining the spirit of the ordinance as well,” Gonzalez said.
The order condemns violators to be fined up to $1,000 and/or up to 180 days of jail time.
People in Harris County who have questions about whether they work for a business that is considered essential can email email@example.com.