HOUSTON - In a press conference on Friday May 15, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo made the announcement. According to Hidalgo’s office, the new “Stay Home, Work Safe” order will extend through at least June 10.
“We still need to be protecting our community,” said Judge Hidalgo. “The alternative to extending the order is to let it expire. I don’t want the community to get the message that we’re done.”
The stay-at-home order was first issued by Judge Hidalgo on March 24th to “flatten the curve” and prevent spreading Coronavirus COVID-19.
In recent weeks, Texas Governor Greg Abbott started lifting restrictions and began allowing more businesses to open doors. The Essential Business Order for Texas expired on April 30.
The new order conforms with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive orders and contains "social distancing guidelines."
“We’re no safer than we were in March,” said Hidalgo.
In an exclusive one-on-one interview, we asked Hidalgo if she wants people to return to work.
“Of course I want folks to go back to work, but in a way that is sustainable,” Hidalgo responded. “Otherwise, we’re all going to be without a job again.”
On Friday, bars and clubs will be able to serve customers for the first time in roughly 2 months. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to increase to 50 percent capacity. On Thursday, we visited Irma’s Southwest in Houston to see how they’re preparing.
“We’re trying to sanitize more,” said operations manager Nick Galvan from Irma’s Southwest. “[We’re] trying to be a little cleaner [with] gloves and masks.”
Like other restaurants, Irma’s Southwest has separated tables to maintain social distancing standards. In addition, they’ve added multiple cleaning stations throughout the restaurant. While they plan to expand to 50 percent capacity Friday, they also acknowledge a mixed message from political leaders.
“It is confusing,” said Galvan. “Hearing the back and the forth between different officials. We’re just kind of paving our way through.”
We asked Judge Hidalgo, if the decision to extend the stay-home order was political.
“I have no room for politics in my brain,” said Hidalgo. “Everything we’re doing is to prevent an outbreak.”
More than 10,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Harris County including roughly 200 fatalities.
We asked Hidalgo if she has any regrets so far.
“Right now, it’s really not the time to look back just yet,” responded Hidalgo. “I’m just so focused on the next thing, and the current situation. That is preventing an outbreak in the community, and keeping the community from thinking that we’re done.”