Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo makes changes to mask order

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County's mandatory mask order went into effect on Monday, but Judge Lina Hidalgo made a few changes.

During a briefing on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott was asked about the timeline of the state's reopening process and a possible disconnect with Harris County's mask mandate. Abbott said, "We strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask. However, it's not a mandate, and we made it clear, no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine."

Hours after Abbott made his announcement, Hidalgo sent the following statement:

"Harris County is the epicenter for the COVID-19 crisis in Texas and face coverings are one of the only weapons we have to stop the spread of the virus and reopen safely. We have a face covering order today and we'll still have a face covering order tomorrow. In practical terms, the governor's order doesn't change much because, like every order we've issued so far, we'd made it clear that the priority was education. The fine was there as a signal of how vital mask wearing is, and in many ways, the community got that message. It's been disappointing to see folks politicize public health, and I hope this means they'll go back to focusing on health and safety instead of politics. As we have in the past, we will amend this order to conform with the governor's."

Businesses are free to mandate masks on their premises.

Kroger sent the following statement:

"We have provided masks for all our store associates to wear, and we'll be requiring associates to wear them in all of our store locations. Our associates are also welcome to bring their own suitable masks or facial coverings to work, if they prefer. Additionally, we also encourage all our customers to wear a mask when they visit our stores, or alternatively, consider one of our ecommerce options available at kroger.com."

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