Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Announces New COVID-19 Health and Safety Requirements for Businesses

June 19, 2020

As hospital admissions for COVID-19 continue to climb across the county, today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order requiring businesses to generate, post, and implement health and safety policies which include, at a minimum, a requirement that workers, customers or visitors wear face coverings. The order takes effect at 12:01 am on Monday, June 22, 2020.

The order directs all commercial entities providing goods or services to require that all employees or visitors to a business premise wear face coverings in areas that involve any proximity to co-workers or the public. Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. Commercial entities must post the health and safety policy in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements.

“There’s no magic wand government can wave to make this virus go away, but we can take steps to ensure that we provide our community with the guidance and tools it needs to fight back,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “This isn’t just the right thing to do for our health and safety, it’s also good for business. We owe it to our community to ensure that those who do have to go out can have the confidence in knowing that the businesses they are patronizing are looking out for their customers, workers, and community as a whole.”

To support the development of health and safety policies, Harris County is making available a sample health and safety policy and additional guidelines for businesses. Businesses that fail to develop,post, and implement a Health and Safety Policy are subject to a $1,000 for each violation.

This week, Harris County ICU bed usage reached its highest level ever during the pandemic, and admissions continue to rise with an increasing rate. To help inform the public regarding the threat and action residents should take, Judge Hidalgo unveiled a public threat level system designed to help residents understand the threat level from COVID-19. The system, informed by the latest data from local health authorities, research institutions, and public health experts, informs a color-coded level indicator for residents displaying the level of COVID-19 threat. Consistent with the latest threat data, the current level of the advisory system is set to Level 2 (orange): minimize all contacts.

A copy of the order may be found here.