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Local Information on Coronavirus

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Issues Face Covering Order - June 19, 2020

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's face covering order

 is effective today and continues through June 30. It applies to commercial entities in Harris County providing goods or services directly to the public. If your business location does not provide goods or services directly to the public, the order does not apply to you.  

The order requires consumer-facing businesses to adopt a health and safety policy ("Policy") requiring, at a minimum, all employees or visitors to the business premises to wear face coverings when in close proximity to co-workers or the public. Commercial entities must post the Policy in a conspicuous location on the business premises sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements. Failure to develop and implement the Policy by June 26 may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation. Harris County peace officers are authorized to enforce the order.Additionally, all persons older than ten 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, subject to limited exceptions. However, no civil or criminal penalty will be imposed on individuals for failure to wear a face covering.

Download the PDF of the full order here.

Harris County "Stay Home, Work Safe" Order

Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and local health officials Tuesday, March 24 to announce details of a "Stay Home, Work Safe" Order issued by Harris County that requires individuals to remain at home or a place of residence, with exceptions for essential work and activities. The Order went into effect at 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, March 24 and was expanded to continue through May 20.

View the complete City of Houston Order
HERE.

View the complete Harris County Order at readyharris.org/stay-home.

What it means:

  • Essential businesses can remain open. The Stay Home, Work Safe Order exempts essential workers covered in 16 CISA categories. The list of critical business can be found here.
  • Individuals may leave their residence only to perform “Essential Activities”
  • People working from home do not have to shelter in place or lock down. Groceries stores, pharmacies, gas stations, parks and other areas will remain open. 
  • Bars and nightclubs will remain closed; restaurants will offer only food takeout and delivery
  • People should practice social distancing 

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Social distancing guidance for all Houstonians: 

  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical care situations.
  • Practice healthy hygiene habits:
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve.
  • Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially if you are at higher risk for coronavirus.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
  • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  • Privacy protection laws only permit the release of limited patient information. The health department is unable to release any additional patient information.

Houstonians may visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 for updated information about local risk, routine protective actions, frequently asked questions, communication resources, rumor control, emergency preparedness tips and more.

The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management is providing the following information as additional guidance. This information should not be considered definitive and partners should seek legal counsel if they are unsure if their business or service is impacted by the order.

What is Open?
  • Essential Government Functions
  • Essential Businesses (see below)
  • Restaurants that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Bars that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Micro-Breweries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Micro-Distilleries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Wineries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Public Parks
  • Open Outdoor Recreation Areas
  • Religious and Worship Services by Video and Teleconference

What is Closed?
  • Playgrounds
  • Gyms
  • Fitness Centers
  • Swimming Pools
  • Sports and Recreation Training Facilities and Studios
  • Hair and Nail Salons
  • Spas
  • Licensed Massage Businesses
  • Tattoo Parlors
  • Concert Halls
  • Live Performance Theaters
  • Arenas
  • Stadiums
  • Movie Theaters
  • Game Rooms
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Arcades
  • Indoor and Outdoor Flea Markets and Swap Meets
  • Indoor Malls and Shopping Centers
  • Bingo Halls

What are "Essential Activities"?
  • Performing tasks essential to health and safety, including: obtaining medication or visiting a healthcare professional
  • Obtaining supplies or services or delivery of those to others, including: food, pet supplies, household products, work from home supplies
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, while keeping social distancing
  • Performing work providing essential products and services to an essential business
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household

Essential Businesses Include:
  • Critical Infrastructure as identified by the US Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  • Essential Government Functions including law enforcement, and other services for the health, safety and welfare of the public
  • Essential Healthcare Operations including hospitals, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, mental health providers, blood banks, home and residential based care for seniors, adults and children, veterinary and animal welfare operations
  • Essential Retail including grocery stores, warehouse stores, gas stations, convenience stores, food producers and service providers
  • Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations
  • Essential Services Necessary to Maintain Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses including: trash and recycling collection, mail and shipping services, building maintenance and security, and funeral homes
  • News Media
  • Childcare and Adult Care Services
  • Infrastructure, Development, Operation and Construction Services including public works construction, housing construction, commercial, manufacturing, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, and telecommunications systems
  • Transportation Businesses including car dealerships, parts distributors, maintenance and repair facilities, gas stations, vehicles for hire
  • Labor Union Functions
  • NASA and Port of Houston
  • Airports and related operations
  • Professional services including legal, accounting, insurance, and real estate services.
  • Other businesses that are not listed but either are or support critical industries or services.

HCOHSEM remains at Level 1 - Maximum Readiness in support of Harris County Public Health and other partners responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Specific questions on the order can be submitted to stayhome@cjo.hctx.net.

Fort Bend County Issues "Stay at Home to Save Lives" Order

Following the Harris County "Stay Home, Work Safe" order, Fort Bend County Judge KP George has issued a "Stay at Home to Save Lives" order. Read the full order here.  For questions about the order, residents can call 281-633-7795.

Other Resources

  • Houston Health Department COVID-19 Call Center: 832-393-4220
    The Houston Health Department has opened a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) call center for Houston residents needing more information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Houstonians can call 
    832-393-4220 to speak to department staff and obtain information about the disease or get their questions answered. The call center will open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will return voice messages left after hours the following day on a first call, first served basis.
  • AlertHouston Emergency Notification System
    Register for alerts from the City of Houston so you can receive critical information in any emergency situation on current conditions, expected impacts, and protective actions you can take.

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