Monday, April 27 marks the first day of the Harris County face mask ordinance. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the ordinance:
What is the new mandatory face mask mandate?
On Wednesday, April 22 Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo officially announced an order requiring face coverings on most county residents who leave the house, in an attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19.
Under the executive order, people ages 10 and older must cover their noses and mouths with a mask, bandanna, scarf, or other face-covering if leaving the house, beginning Monday, April 27 and lasting 30 days.
What are the exceptions to this order?
Exceptions include eating, drinking, exercising, or being alone in a separate place indoors. The order also exempts wearing a mask when it poses a greater risk to security, mental or physical health. The county judge asked people not to use medical or N-95 masks if they could be avoided, in order to make them available to health care providers and first responders.
What if an employee doesn’t have a mask?
Hidalgo said she is not asking people to wear a medical mask. She said everyone has materials at home that can be used to make a mask, for example, bandana, an old t-shirt, a scarf, a handkerchief or anything else that can be used to cover your nose and mouth. There are instructions on how to make a face covering at home on ReadyHarris.org.
Do I have to provide my employee with a face mask?
While nothing is stated in writing under the official mandate to provide employees with face masks, it is recommended that if an employee is not able to obtain a facemask, or the materials to make one, then the employer should have those resources readily available, especially if the business is considered essential and the employee comes into close contact with other employees or customers.
Should you make your employees wear masks while at work?
Masks are not a replacement for social distancing, so if it is not possible to stay six feet apart from each other while working then a face mask should be worn. Employees that come into contact with customers, vendors or clients are recommended to wear a facemask during those interactions. Restrict the number of employees using common areas and make them wear facemasks while in those areas, which include hallways, the restroom, enclosed spaces or when needing assistance from another employee at close distance.
What are the consequences of not following this order?
Hidalgo said there is a $1,000 fine associated with the order. She believes law enforcement will use their discretion, but she wanted to make the order enforceable by law, so a fine had to be put in place.
For additional information about the face mask order and how it applies to the workplace, please contact us.