What is an essential employee? Stay-at-home order issued for Houston

Houston and Harris County’s stay-at-home order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24 and will last until at least April 3.

HOUSTON — Harris County and Houston’s “Stay Home Work Safe” ordinance is similar to what many other communities call a “stay-at-home order” or shelter-in-place.

But Houston isn’t closing.

The order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24 and will remain in effect until at least April 3, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Tuesday.

Related: ‘Stay Home, Your Safety Order’ Passes In Force In Harris County, Houston

Related: What’s Allowed Under ‘Stay Home Houston, Do You Order?

Hidalgo said only “essential businesses” should continue to operate. She said the county and city will refer to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s list of “16 areas deemed critical” to determine what is critical.

Hidalgo also noted that grocery stores, restaurants (for take-out, delivery and drive-thru) will remain open as well as child care centers that support essential employees.

The 16 sectors considered “critical” by cybersecurity and infrastructure security:

“There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security. , national economic security, national public health or security, or any combination thereof Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21): PPD-21 identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors.

Commercial facilities sector

Critical manufacturing sector

Defense Industrial Base Sector

Emergency services sector

Financial services sector

Food and agriculture sector

Government facilities sector

Health and public health sector

Information technology sector

Nuclear reactors, materials and waste sector

Transport systems sector

Water and wastewater sector

Here are some of the essential businesses that remain open under this order:

  • Groceries. Food manufacturers. Hospitals and medical institutions. Police. Fire. EMS. Internet service providers. Power plants or any facility that processes electricity, oil or natural gas.
  • Transportation companies, including Port of Houston, Rail Freight, Postal Workers, Aviation, Transit, Truckers, Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies.
  • Water and sewage systems remain operational. Critical manufacturing, including those currently producing masks or hand sanitizer.
  • Banks remain essential and operational, as do defense industries, auto repair shops, funeral homes, and hardware and supply stores.
  • Housing construction and road works can also continue as well as garbage collection.
  • Homeless shelters and social services also remain open.

However, places of worship are not considered essential and must close and only provide online services.

Leaders stress that even those who show up for work must “work safely”. This means social distancing, six feet apart and absolutely no group gatherings.

If you have a question or concern regarding this order, you may email county officials at stayathome@cjo.hctx.net.

Grocery stores will remain open

Essential businesses, such as grocery stores and gas stations, will remain open.

Judge Hidalgo made it clear on Monday that she did not want to use the term “shelter-in-place” because that, in Houston, is usually reserved for plant explosions or hurricanes.

Restaurants will remain open for take-out, delivery and drive-thru. Child care centers that provide support for essential employees will remain open.

City and county parks will also remain open, though Hidalgo warned people should keep their distance from each other. Park training equipment and play areas should not be touched or used.

Stay 6 feet apart

Hidalgo says for those who have to work, they should maintain six feet apart. People can still manage the business they need, like taking care of a pet or a family member in another household.

Those who break the order and gather in groups risk a fine or up to 180 days in jail.

RELATED: Coronavirus Updates: Check out the live blog here

Coronavirus symptoms

Coronavirus symptoms may feel like the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed that 80% of cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC estimates that symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread by…

  • Air while coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface containing the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

Reduce your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or older and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with sick people.

Get full coverage of the coronavirus by texting “FACTS” to 713-526-1111.

Michelle J. Kelley