Harris County order requiring face coverings in public now in effect

An order requiring masks or face coverings to be worn in public in Harris County goes into effect today.

Face coverings are required for people over the age of 10 who are in a public place in close proximity to others. Those who are found in violation could be fined $1,000.

The mask does not need to be a medical-grade or an N95 mask. It can be a handkerchief, scarf or other material from home.

MORE: How to make your own face mask at home — even if you don’t know how to sew

According to the order, the face coverings must be worn except when:

 - Exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside alone

 - Alone in a separate single space, whether indoors or outdoors

 -  In the presence only of other members of one’s residence, whether inside or outside the residence

 - When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health risk, including exacerbating a pre-existing medical condition or including, but not limited to, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance

 - When doing so poses a security or safety risk, such as impairing the ability to drive or to be inspected at a security checkpoint

 -  When eating or drinking;

The County stresses that wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet of social distancing and hand washing.

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It is recommended that residents not use disposable face coverings more than three times, and residents are advised to wash reusable cloth face coverings regularly to prevent the spread of the virus.

The order remains in effect for 30 days through 11:59  p.m.  May 26.

RELATED: 'Stay Home-Work Safe' order for Harris County extended through April 30