Harris County bans gatherings of 10 or more people until at least the end of August

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has issued an order prohibiting outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people.

The order went into effect July 3 and will last until at least 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, August 26.

The enforcement of the order also comes at a time where people are celebrating Fourth of July weekend.

If you do plan to take in some dazzling fireworks displays, you'll need to know that fireworks are only allowed in unincorporated Harris County. Viewing them from inside your car is allowed.

Fireworks displays and gatherings with more than 100 people viewing them from outside a vehicle is prohibited.

SEE ALSO: Stay home, stay safe and celebrate July 4th with these events

However, there are exceptions to Harris County's order where certain outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are still allowed:

  • Religious services
  • Local government operations
  • Child-care services
  • Youth camps
  • Recreational sports programs for youths and adults
  • Professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events

  • Swimming pools
  • Water parks
  • Museums and libraries
  • Zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities
  • Rodeos and equestrian events
  • Amusement parks, each as described in and with all limitations imposed by Executive Order GA-28

You can report violations of the order by calling 832-839-6941 or by going to the Ready Harris website.

The order comes a week after Hidalgo increased the COVID-19 threat level in the area to red, which means it's severe, and you should stay home.

The four-level, color-coded system is designed to help provide the public with guidance on how to protect themselves.

"The harsh truth is that our current infection rate is on pace to overwhelm our hospitals in the very near future," Judge Hidalgo said on June 26. "We hope this serves as a wakeup call to everyone that the time to act is now."

Under the level one threat, you're urged to:
  • Stay home, unless you need to make trips to the grocery store for food and medicine
  • Avoid and cancel all gatherings of any size
  • All vulnerable individuals (65+ or with pre-existing health conditions) stay home
  • Self-quarantine for 14 days if in close and prolonged contact with someone who has tested positive with COVID-19
  • Wear face coverings to protect others
  • Avoid non-essential business and personal travel
  • Avoid public transportation where possible
  • Cancel visits to nursing homes, long term care facilities, and hospitals
  • Avoid and cancel all indoor and outdoor gatherings, including concerts, rodeos, large sporting events, etc. Schools and after-school activities for youth should close, as directed by educational authorities

These are the four levels of the COVID-19 threat system for Harris County:
Level 1 - Severe (red) Stay Home
Level 2 - Significant (orange) Minimize All Contacts
Level 3 - Moderate (yellow) Stay Vigilant
Level 4 - Minimal (green) Resume Normal Contacts

The county has a constant indicator dial at ReadyHarris.org.

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Harris County's Dr. Shah says "enough is enough," people need to take COVID seriously.

Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide mask order, which means every Texan is required to wear a mask or facial covering when out in public. According to the governor, the order applies to all counties in the state with more than 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The requirement must be followed anywhere where a person cannot socially distance.

According to Abbott, first-time violators of the mask order will be issued a warning. If violated a second time, a $250 fine will be issued, said the governor.

READ MORE: Statewide mask order for Texas now in effect
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"COVID-19 is not going away," said the governor in the announcement above published on his social media accounts. "In fact, it's getting worse." Watch to hear his entire message to Texans as he issues the statewide mandate.

RELATED: Where are we on COVID-19 fight? Here's what experts say
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"Is it still safe? Should we even be out?" Hit play to hear the answers straight from a Houston doctor studying COVID-19.

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The video above is from a previous story.
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