It’s official. If you’re past fifth grade and live in Harris County come Monday you need to wear a mask or face covering when you go outside.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued the executive order Wednesday requiring individuals over the age of 10 to wear face coverings or face a Class C misdemeanor which could bring a fine of up to $1,000 during the 30 days following Monday.
At the press conference Hidalgo was supported by Mayor Turner and Dr. David Perrse, head of the city’s health department. Mayor Turner expressed gratitude that the rule allows residents five days to get ready for implementation and preparation. Dr. Perrse said area hospitals have not reached capacity because of the measures residents have been taking so far and believes this will help keep the numbers down, joking at one point that he’d figure out a way to sew his own mask. Essential businesses are required to provide employees with appropriate face coverings and should educate workers on their use.
Requirements of what constitutes a face covering are fairly loose, permitting scarves, bandanas, handkerchiefs or the homemade styles that have become popular.It’s not recommended that the general population use medical masks or N-95 respirators but rather leave those available for medical personnel.
The exceptions to the face mask requirement are when driving, exercising, eating or drinking, alone or in a separate space, at home, or when wearing a mask risks security or mental or physical health.
As to the criticism that began before Hidalgo issued the order, at the press conference she said different people have different opinions. Harris County Republican Party Chairman Paul Simpson called it an "unenforceable power grab" and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick accused the judge of overstepping her authority.