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Texas Mandated Restrictions in Response to COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid public health crisis, changing almost daily. On July 18 almost half of Texas’ 254 counties, including those in the Houston metro region, were classified as being in the “red zone”  because of new COVID-19 cases and rising positivity rates. Texas, which has mandated restrictions in response to COVID-19, has seen five straight days of 10,000+ new cases as of July 19.

Following COVID-19 Updates

If you are living, working, or travelling in Texas you should check regularly with local jurisdictions regarding COVID-19 conditions and mandated restrictions.

What Are The Rules? written on a chalkboardIn Montgomery, follow the county’s Coronas Virus Response Hub, the Montgomery County Public Health District, and Montgomery County judge Mark Keough.

In Harris, follow the Harris County Public Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus homepage which has links to pertinent information, including orders from Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo.

On the state level, follow executive orders relating to COVID-19 on the Opening the State of Texas page.

Statewide COVID-19 Mandates in Effect

Some statewide changes that have gone into effect recently:

  • All bars, establishments that receive more than 51 percent of their sales from alcohol, were shut down, but could remain open for delivery and take-out.
  • Restaurants, which had been operating at 75 percent seating capacity, had to roll back to 50 percent.
  • Rafting and tubing businesses ordered closed.
  • Most other businesses can operate at 50 percent capacity. These limits do not apply to religious services, government operations or youth camps. Hair salons, nail salons and other personal-care businesses do not have capacity limits, but workstations must be six feet apart.
  • Outdoor gatherings of 10 or more of people must get local government approval.
  • Elective surgeries are banned in 100+ counties, including Harris and Montgomery.
  • Most of the state is under a mandated face covering restriction in certain public spaces.
  • Texas Mandates Face Coverings

On July 2 Abbott issued “Executive Order No. GA-29 relating to the use of face coverings during the COVID- 19 disaster”. Abbott’s order essentially put most of the state, including Harris County and Montgomery County, under a mandated face covering restriction in certain public situations.

The Texas mandate says that every person shall wear a face covering, over the nose and mouth, when inside a building open to the public or when outdoors in a public space where it is not feasible to maintain social distancing of six feet from another person not in the same household. Exceptions to the Texas face covering mandate include children under the age 10, exercising outdoors, and while eating or drinking or seated at a restaurant.

Texas Counties with 20 or fewer active COVID-19 cases can opt out; by July the Texas Tribune reported that 78 counties, had opted out of the face covering order.

The face covering mandate states that violators cannot be detained, arrested, or confined to jail. A written warning should be issued to first-time violators and then a fine of up to $250 for each subsequent violation.

Face Covering Enforcement and Public Gathering Rules Vary

Some law enforcement agencies, such as the Montgomery County Sherriff’s Office, have issued statements saying they will take no actions to enforce the state’s face mask covering mandate. Montgomery County Sherriff’s Office said it will respond if business owners or supervisors report people in violation of the law refusing to leave their establishment and creating a disturbance.

In Harris County, Judge Hidalgo extended a June 19 order that mandates that businesses require customers to cover their faces. Businesses that do not comply can be punished by a $1,000 fine, though Hidalgo asked law enforcement to focus on education rather than citations.

Gathering rules also vary with Harris County prohibiting outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people, with exceptions such as religious services and youth camps, through August 26.

In Montgomery County, Judge Keough said that, “events in excess of 10 persons shall continue as planned in Montgomery County so long as they are in compliance with Governor’s executive order and the CDC guidelines.”

If you need emergency services, our Montgomery County Emergency Communication District (MCECD) infrastructure system is ready to serve you.