Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an executive order Friday directing all businesses in the county that provide goods or services to the public to require customers and employees to wear masks and maintain social distancing guidelines beginning Monday.
“The order directs all commercial entities providing goods or services to require that all employees or visitors to a business premise wear face coverings in areas that involve any proximity to co-workers or the public,” officials wrote in a press release.
Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner likened the order to a “no shirt, no shoes, no service,” policy that many businesses already have in place.
Per the order, all businesses offering good and services will be required to make sure customers and employees:
- Wear a mask or face covering
- Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet (or 2 meters) from other customers and staff
- Prevent customers or employees who feel sick from coming into the businesses
There are some exceptions to the order
- Children under the age of 10 are exempt from wearing a mask
- When consuming food or drink provided by a business (restaurants or bars)
- When doing so poses a greater mental or physical safety risk or security risk
- While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening
- When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside
- While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment
Harris County joins other places in the state like Bexar County, the city of Austin and others in issuing such an order.
Hidalgo said the order will go into effect on Monday and will continue till the end of the month. She said on June 30, the state’s disaster declaration will end and as a result, so will the mask order. However, she said she will ask the state that the disaster declaration be extended and she will also review whether or not the mask order should be as well.
The order will go into effect on Monday and there will be no penalties imposed for the first five days, Hidalgo said. Following that, businesses offering good and services who are non-compliant will face a $1,000 fine per violation.
Need for a mask order
Turner, Hidalgo, and Dr. Umair Shah and Dr. David Persse who lead the Harris County and Houston health departments all stressed the need for the order.
They said wearing a mask has been a proven way to reduce the possible spread of the virus.
“There’s no magic wand government can wave to make this virus go away, but we can take steps to ensure that we provide our community with the guidance and tools it needs to fight back,” Hidalgo said. “This isn’t just the right thing to do for our health and safety, it’s also good for business. We owe it to our community to ensure that those who do have to go out can have the confidence in knowing that the businesses they are patronizing are looking out for their customers, workers, and community as a whole.”
Read the full order below:
Watch the full press conference below:
WATCH LIVE: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner expected to announce executive order mandating masks in Harris County
WATCH LIVE: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner expected to announce executive order mandating masks in Harris County LIVE BLOG: https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/06/19/hidalgo-to-make-announcement-about-harris-county-mask-order-at-4-pm/Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Friday, June 19, 2020
Read the live blog of the announcement below: