HARRIS COUNTY - Starting Monday, June 22, Harris County businesses must require anyone over the age of 10, employee or customer, to wear a mask or face covering, or ban them from entering.
The order was issued by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo last week in hopes of slowing down the spread of COVID-19. Businesses who don’t comply could face a $1,000 fine per violation, a penalty signed off by Governor Greg Abbott.
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Ken Bridge, the CEO of Delicious Concepts Restaurant Group which includes Ready Room, Pink’s Pizza, Blackbird Izakaya, Millie's and Ritual, enforcement of new COVID-19 safety rules boils down to a simple “do it, or leave”.
"We take the approach of drawing a line in the sand. So there's really no gray area. If guests for whatever reason are unwilling to abide by those rules then we do very, very politely try to convince them to do so. And if they still cannot do that, then we have to ask them to leave, absolutely," Bridge said.
Thanks to his app Roovy, the dine-in experience at Ritual in the Heights is completely contact-less, as customers can simply place their orders through their phone. Masks are required the entire time, unless a customer is eating or drinking.
"The way that we've always highly recommend it to our guest is when you're at your table, obviously you've got to eat and drink so the mask can be removed. If you have to get up for any reason to visit the restroom, check on anything or just to visit our Butcher Room at Ritual, we ask that you always wear your mask and be conscious of that," Bridge said.
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Bridge said he’s extremely cautious and proactive about the virus after two of his employees within the restaurant group tested positive last month. All of his staff are now tested every two weeks and temperature checks may soon be expanded for customers as well.
"What was really, really bizarre three or four months ago is kind of commonplace now. We already require temperature checks for customers at Ready Room and for all of our employees across the board. But we may soon start doing that for guests at Ritual too," Bridge said.
There are exemptions to the order. Wearing a mask will not be required while exercising outdoors, pumping gas, when in a business that requires security surveillance like a bank, eating or drinking something provided by the business, or if a mask would pose a greater health risk to the individual.