What does the Harris County and Houston Stay Home - Work Safe order mean for you?

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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WATCH: Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo helped clarify what defines essential work at a press conference Tuesday.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a Stay Home - Work Safe Order for Harris County residents to help fight the spread of COVID-19.


The order will last until April 30, but what exactly does it entail?

Can I go to work?

Yes, but only if you are deemed an employee essential for public health and safety, such as grocery store employees, health care providers and more. Those whose jobs are deemed essential are expected to maintain social distancing standards in the workplace.

According to the federal government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines, there are 16 sectors considered essential:

  • CommunicationsThis includes media, as well as phone, internet, satellite and wireless transmission providers.
  • ChemicalThis includes businesses involved in the manufacture, storage, uses and transportation of chemicals.
  • Critical ManufacturingAmong the businesses included in this sector are metals and machine manufacturing, as well as vehicles such as cars and airplanes.
  • Commercial FacilitiesCommercial facilities covers a range of sites such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • DamsBusinesses involving irrigation and flood control fall under this sector, along with drinking water supplies and hydro-power energy.
  • Defense Industrial BaseThis sector includes the military as well as companies that provide resources to the Department of Defense.
  • Emergency ServicesLaw enforcement, firefighters, EMS and public works departments are included in this sector, along with private security organizations.
  • EnergyIndustries that provide electricity to households and businesses, fuel to the transportation industry and other sources of energy are covered under this sector. Utilities companies and gas stations would fall under this division.
  • FinancialBanks, credit unions and other financial institutions, as well as investment companies, are covered under the financial sector.
  • Food & AgricultureRestaurants fall under the category of food and agriculture. Farms, food processing and food storage facilities would also be included. Food pantries, including the Houston Food Bank, are among the businesses considered essential.
  • Government FacilitiesGovernment facilities include federal, state and local offices, including courthouses and systems involved with elections and voting.
  • Healthcare & Public HealthDoctors offices, dental offices, medical clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and COVID-19 testing sites are among the essential businesses in this sector.
  • Information TechnologyInternet providers are including in this essential sector.
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials and WastePower providers are under this sector, as well as some waste handling involving medical isotopes used to treat cancer patients.
  • Transportation SystemsThe transportation sector includes trucking and moving of necessary goods, as well as public transportation.
  • WaterWater and wastewater treatment facilities are included in this essential sector.
  • Can I still go to the store to buy groceries?

    Yes, grocery stores will remain open during the order. However, all grocers will be required to keep customers at least six feet apart to meet social distancing standards. Health officials don't recommend leaving the house unless it's an absolute necessity.

    Can I go to church?

    No, all Harris County churches will be required to host religious services online only. There can be exceptions made for one-on-one meetings for spiritual and mental health, but individuals involved must maintain social distancing requirements.

    Can I still visit public parks?

    Yes, all public parks will remain open. However, visitors must stay six feet apart from one another. All public benches, exercise equipment, playgrounds and basketball courts will be closed to eliminate contact.

    What if I need to leave my house to care for someone else, such as en elderly relative?

    You are allowed to leave your home for emergency/essential care of family members, pets, and other loved ones.

    Are restaurants closing?

    No, Harris County restaurants are still allowed to serve to-go and drive-thru orders, but customers picking up food will be required to stay six feet apart.

    Hidalgo says individuals who violate these restrictions could face a fine or up to 180 days in jail.

    SEE ALSO:Coronavirus: How to stay safe when going out in public for essentials such as food and gasHouston-area grocery stores offer special hours for senior shoppersFree educational resources for kids stuck at home during COVID-19