HOUSTON – As COVID-19 cases surge to new levels in the Greater Houston area and across Texas, many local officials are enacting mask orders to slow the spread of the virus while others are leaving the decision up to businesses and customers to police themselves.
Here is a quick breakdown of which counties with and without mask orders:
Counties, cities with a mask order
- City of Galveston
- City of La Marque
- City of Pearland
- City of Sugar Land
- Chambers County
- Fort Bend County
- Harris County
- Missouri City
Counties without a mask order
- Galveston County
- Montgomery County
- Brazoria County
- Liberty County
- Austin County
Here is what each mask order requires in each county:
No mask order.
No mask order in effect.
County officials encourage wearing a mask, social distancing and handwashing to slow the spread.
Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia issued an order mandating that all businesses require all employees and visitors to wear face coverings beginning June 25 at 12:01 a.m. Businesses must develop, implement and post their health guidelines. The order expires on June 30, unless extended by officials.
Fort Bend County
Fort Bend County Judge KP George announced a mask order Tuesday to combat the spread of COVID-19. The order goes into effect at midnight on June 25. All employees and customers must wear face coverings inside businesses throughout the county. Also, businesses must post visible signage informing people they must wear a face covering.
The city of Galveston extended its mask order Thursday to continue through the end of September. Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough originally signed the order earlier this week. The city council passed the extension, 5-2.
A face mask order will not be enacted in Galveston County, said County Judge Mark Henry. He explained his decision in a Facebook post over the weekend.
Harris County and Houston
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an executive order Friday, June 19 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.
This order, which also affects businesses in the city of Houston, began on Monday and expires on June 30. It may be extended.
In accordance with Fort Bend and Harris Counties, Mayor Yolanda Ford issued a local order requiring that face coverings must be worn in all local businesses and workplaces by employees and patrons. The order, which outlines wearing homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, and handkerchiefs, goes into effect on June 28.
BREAKING: #MCTX Mayor Yolanda Ford has issued a mandatory mask requirement, which goes into effect on 6/28. As the number of positive #COVID19 cases continues to increase, the Municipal Court is once again closed to the public. For details, click here: https://t.co/U0EOzDQROc— Missouri City, TX (@MissouriCityTX) June 27, 2020
County Judge Mark Keough said Tuesday there is no mandate to wear a mask or other health precautions such as social distancing and staying home when sick. However, he said, “it’s imperative that everyone follow CDC guidelines while in public.”
He said he believes each person can do their part to follow the CDC guidelines.
The city of La Marque, in mainland Galveston County, has also enacted a mask order for all residents and visitors. Masks must be worn outside of their homes or vehicles.
No mask order.
The city of Pearland is also requiring all commercial businesses that offer goods or services to the public to require employees and visitors to wear a face covering. The order expires on July 12, unless extended by officials.
Sugar Land officials enact order requiring facial protections in public. The order levies potential fines, up to $1,000, for business owners, and not customers.
Waller County Judge Trey Duhon announced that the county will not issue a mask order but says he does believe that wearing a mask will help decrease the transmission rate of the coronavirus. Duhon said that he currently wears a mask for other protection as well as his own to protect himself and others from asymptomatic carriers.
The judge did say that it is a good idea for businesses to require guests to wear a mask while inside the building but that it is not up to the government’s authority to enforce those to require masks or for them to face fines.
“It’s up to each business to make it’s customers feel safe inside their business. That’s how the free market works. Remember - a business can determine what rules they want to have... (i.e. no shoes, no shirt - no service). And you can decide which businesses you choose to frequent as well,” Duhon’s Facebook post reads.
He said he strongly encourages residents to wear masks when in public locations and strongly encourages businesses to require customers to also wear a mask. Duhon said his response could change if coronavirus increases, resulting in hospitalizations and ICU bed shortages due to people not wearing a mask when out in public.