On June 19, 2020, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued an order (the Order) requiring businesses in Harris County, Texas, that provide goods and services directly to the public to develop, post, and implement a health and safety policy that requires employees and visitors age 10 and older to wear face coverings when in the commercial entity or when working in areas within close proximity to others. The Order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on June 22, 2020, and is scheduled to continue through June 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., unless extended, modified, or terminated early.

Per the Order, all people age 10 and older must wear a face covering in commercial entities or when working in areas of commercial entities in close proximity to others. Face coverings are not required under the following six circumstances:

  1. When exercising or engaging in physical activity while outside;
  2. While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
  3. When wearing a face covering poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk;
  4. While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment;
  5. While in a building or performing an activity that requires security surveillance or screening (for example, banks);
  6. When eating or drinking.

The commercial entity’s health and safety policy must be conspicuously posted no later than Saturday, June 27, 2020 (within five calendar days of the Order going into effect). An example of a health and safety policy, including Judge Hidalgo’s Order, can be found at https://www.readyharris.org/Stay-Safe. According to the Order, businesses that fail to develop and implement the health and safety policy within the required time frame may be fined up to $1,000 per violation. Individuals will not face civil or criminal penalties for failure to wear a face covering.

If you have any questions or concerns about Harris County’s Order or how it affects your company, Reed Smith’s experienced Labor & Employment Group attorneys are ready to speak with you.