Harris County Mask Update

NOW THEREFORE, I, COUNTY JUDGE FOR HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED BY TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 418, HEREBY FIND AND ORDER:

That the findings and recitations set out in the preamble to this ORDER are found to be true and correct and they are hereby adopted by the County Judge and made a part hereof for all purposes.

Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 22, 2020, and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, unless extended, modified or terminated early by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo or as otherwise indicated below:

  • Public Health Emergency. That this Executive Order shall incorporate and adopt the most recent executive order GA-26 issued by Governor Greg Abbott on June 3, 2020, and any subsequent orders by the Governor relating to the expanded opening of Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.
  • Health and Safety Policy – Commercial Entities. From the date of this Executive Order, all commercial entities in Harris County providing goods or services directly to the public must develop, post, and implement a health and safety policy (“Health and Safety Policy”). The Health and Safety Policy must require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public. The Health and Safety Policy required to be developed and implemented by this Order may also include the implementation of other mitigating measures designed to control and reduce the transmission of COVID-19, such as those included in the Harris County Public Health Guidance document “Business Guidance for Mitigating the Spread” posted on ReadyHarris.org or Guidance to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.
  • Commercial entities must post the health and safety policy required by this Executive Order in this paragraph in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements. Failure to develop and implement the Health and Safety Policy required by this Executive Order within five (5) calendar days following the Effective Date may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.
  • Face Coverings – General Public. Except for the exemptions below, all people 10 years or older shall wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in a commercial entity or working in areas in a commercial entity that involve close proximity with others. The CDC advises face coverings for people 2 years or older. Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. Harris County residents should continue to maintain social distancing of at least six feet while outside the home. Harris County employees also are required to wear face coverings under the same circumstances as the general public.
  • Severability. If any subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this Order or any application of it to any person, structure, or circumstance is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, then such decision will not affect the validity of the remaining portions or applications of this Order.
  • Interpretation and Additional Terms. To the greatest extent possible, this Executive Order shall be interpreted as consistent with and supplemental to any executive order issued by the Texas Governor. All provisions of the executive orders of the Texas Governor either existing or as, if and when issued, which are made applicable to all jurisdictions by law shall be automatically incorporated into and constitute terms of this Executive Order, enforceable as if set forth herein without necessity for the issuance of any further orders.
  • Enforcement. Excepting Section III of this Executive Order and in accordance with the limitations contained in the executive orders of Governor Greg Abbott, any peace officer or other person with lawful authority is hereby authorized to enforce the provisions of this Executive Order in accordance with the authority granted under the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 (at Section 418.173 of the Texas Government Code) and pursuant to Appendix 9 to and Section V(A)(5)(a) Annex U of the Harris County Basic Plan adopted by Harris County Commissioners Court on October 29, 2019.
  • Posting. Harris County will post this Order on the Internet.

IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT PEOPLE NOT OBTAIN OR WEAR MEDICAL MASKS or N-95 RESPIRATORS AS THEY ARE A NEEDED RESOURCE FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AND FIRST RESPONDERS. Our healthcare workers and first responders on the front-line combating COVID-19 must have priority access to medical masks or other personal protective equipment. Face coverings do not need to be worn in the following circumstances:

  • When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside;
  • While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
  • When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk;
  • While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment;
  • While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, for example, banks; or
  • When consuming food or drink.

Please note that face coverings are a secondary strategy to other mitigation efforts. Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing, frequent handwashing, and self-isolation when sick. All people should follow CDC recommendations for how to wear and take off a mask. Residents should keep up the following habits while in public:

  • washing hands before you leave home and when you return;
  • staying at least six feet away from others;
  • avoiding touching nose or face;
  • not using disposable masks more than three times; and
  • washing reusable cloth masks regularly to prevent the spread of the virus.

Consistent with Executive Order GA-26 issued by Governor Greg Abbott, no civil or criminal penalty will be imposed on individuals for failure to wear a face covering.

ORDERED at ____ p.m. on this 19th day of June, 2020, in the County of Harris, Texas.

IT IS SO ORDERED
_______________________
LINA HIDALGO
HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE

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