HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order requiring people to wear some form of face-covering, which goes into effect Monday and remain in for 30 days.
Hidalgo said the order will help keep people safe as officials work to reopen the county, but masks are not a replacement for social distancing.
“If we get cocky or sloppy, we get right back to where we started and all the sacrifices that we have been making will be in vain," Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo said the latest research says that even people who are not symptomatic can be carrying the virus. Face masks protect the community from that transmission.
Here is what to know about the order:
Who is required to wear a mask?
Anyone 10 years or older should wear a face covering that covers his or her nose and mouth. Hidalgo said she encourages parents to try and get their kids to wear a face-covering but understands sometimes that may not be feasible.
When is the order applicable?
This order is applicable when you are in public or when you are with people who do not live with you, according to Hidalgo.
What if I can’t wear a mask?
Hidalgo said the order will make exceptions for people with health or mental health conditions who have difficulties wearing facial covers.
Are there any other exceptions?
Other exceptions will also include people who are driving, eating or exercising alone.
What if I don’t have a mask?
Hidalgo said she is not asking people to wear a medical mask. She said everyone has materials at home that can be used to make a mask, for example, bandana, an old t-shirt, a scarf, a handkerchief or anything else that can be used to cover your nose and mouth.
There are instructions on readyharris.org for people who wish to make their own masks.
Why is it going into effect Monday and not immediately?
Hidalgo said she wanted to make it effective Monday so people have time to get or make a mask. However, she asked who already has a mask to please wear it. Don’t wait until Monday.
“I know this takes some getting used to, but these are small but powerful actions ...we have made too much progress to backtrack now," Hidalgo said.
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