Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed a new order mandating that everyone over the age of 10 wear a face covering when outside their home. This order will be in effect at 12:01 AM on Monday, April 27, 2020 and will continue until May 26, 2020 at 11:59 PM.
Full Text of the Order can be viewed here: https://www.readyharris.org/
Understanding the Order
When leaving your home and when in public places all persons over the age of ten (10) must wear some form of face covering that covers the nose and mouth.
- Public places include pharmacies, grocery stores, public transit, or work areas where it is difficult to maintain the recommended 6 feet of social distance.
- Face coverings may be a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief, as long as it covers the nose and mouth (see link below on how to make your own).
Exceptions to Mandatory Face Covering
You must wear a face covering at all times, except:
- When eating or drinking;
- When you are exercising or doing physical activities outdoors;
- When you are alone in a single space, indoors or outdoors;
- When you are at home with other family members who live with you; or,
- When wearing a face covering poses a mental, physical, safety or security risk (i.e. someone who has trouble breathing).
Choosing and Wearing a Face Covering
Harris County cannot provide face coverings to residents. We encourage residents to purchase or make a face covering to wear.When choosing a face covering, we encourage residents NOT to use medical or N-95 masks so they remain available for health care providers and first responders.
The CDC provides instructions on how to make different types of cloth face covering from items in your home: https://www.cdc.gov/
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
When wearing a face covering, it is also important to:
- Avoid touching your nose or face, or readjusting mask often
- Do not using disposable masks more than three times; and
- Wash reusable cloth masks regularly to prevent the spread of the virus.
Continue Good Health Habits
Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing because these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.
Judges of Galveston, Brazoria and Montgomery counties said although Harris County is requiring face coverings in public, they will not issue such a mandate.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry tweeted while covering one’s face in public is recommended by national and local authorities, he will not mandate face coverings, as he believes it is “unconstitutional to do so.”
“Just as critical as getting our economy back up and running, it is important that elected officials uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution and ensure individual freedoms remain intact during and after this pandemic,” he said in a statement.
Galveston County will not be issuing any orders mandating citizens to wear masks or face coverings in public. America was built upon the fabric of individual liberty and freedom. It’s important now more than ever that we stress personal responsibility. pic.twitter.com/6rxoKEicIu
— Judge Mark Henry (@JudgeMarkHenry) April 22, 2020
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough also said he will not mandate face coverings in public.
“I do not find a statutory or legal basis that would allow me or anyone else in government to issue an order requiring citizens to wear a mask In public, especially under the fear of making it a criminal offense if they don’t,” he said in a video statement.
Judge Keough encouraged residents to respect each other whether they choose to wear a mask and continue practicing social distancing.
Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta also said he will not mandate residents to wear masks in public unless the county health authority strongly recommends it. However, Judge Sebesta highly encourages everyone to wear a mask when out in public.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George said he is not issuing a mandate but still “strong recommends” residents wear masks in public.
Officials in Chambers, Waller and Liberty counties also said they have no such required face covering orders in place.