Houston mayor, Harris County judge issue stay-at-home order for Harris County

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a stay-at-home order for the entire country at a press conference Tuesday.

Houston and Harris County join numerous cities and counties in Texas with stay-at-home orders. Travis and Williamson counties are expected to also make similar announcements Tuesday.

The order is in place from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, through April 3. Individuals whose work is essential to the health and safety of the public are exempt. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has outlined 16 categories of businesses that are considered essential, which Hidalgo said guided the exemptions in her order.

Hidalgo stressed that the order was not a curfew. However, Hidalgo said Harris County residents must “be responsible” when leaving their homes.

Residents will still be allowed to shop at grocery stores and pharmacies. Hidalgo said customers should remain 6 feet apart while going to buy food.

The order will also include other exemptions aimed at promoting mental health, Hidalgo said.

While all religious services are limited to video broadcasts under the order, religious leaders will be allowed to meet with individuals one-on-one to provide spiritual guidance.

Hidalgo said concerns about mental health also drove her decision to leave city parks open. But areas such as playgrounds and basketball courts will be closed.

Restaurants in Harris County will remain limited to take-out and delivery only — with dine-in service prohibited. That restriction has been in place since March 17.

Residents who do leave their homes for exercise or other essential activities must comply with the 6-foot social distancing requirement. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, all individuals in their household will be quarantined.

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