hidalgo threat level

Harris County businesses will have to continue to require customers and employees to wear masks or other facial coverings through August 26, County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier this month, Hidalgo signed an order that required everyone ages 10 and older inside of local businesses to wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible. Additionally, the order mandated that businesses must post their health and safety policy where it can clearly be seen by customers.

The original order was based on a disaster declaration in Harris County and was set to expire in the coming days, but it has now been extended through August 26 to match the extension of the disaster declaration by the Commissioner’s Court. Harris County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to extend the disaster declaration.

On Monday, the county judge announced her intention to extend the order.

“I will be requesting an extension on the disaster declaration, and if I’m granted that extension from my colleagues, then I do plan to extend the requirement for businesses to require masks from their employees and their patrons,” said Hidalgo.

“The idea is to see this as no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service,” Hidalgo said when announcing the order last week. “It gives people an understanding of what to expect when they go into an establishment.”

Businesses that don’t comply with the order could face fines up to $1,000, but Hidalgo has stated that the priority of the order is education, not enforcement.

The order does have a few notable exceptions, such as dining at a restaurant, pumping gas, or going to a bank.