What happens if you violate the stay at home order during COVID-19 pandemic?

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez hopes to help the community familiarize itself with the Stay Home, Work Safe order.

“Our primary focus right now is simply to educate and to try to get some self-compliance,” he told FOX 26 on the phone.

However, he warns, they can enforce it immediately.

“It absolutely can be enforced as of now. We’ve talked to our other public safety partners, and so we're very clear on what we would do if we needed to enforce it,” Gonzalez added.

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In Harris County, the fine is up to $1,000 for violating the order. It is also a Class B misdemeanor which could mean up to 180 days in jail.

Gonzalez says anyone who is clearly hosting a large social gathering out in the open or any non-essential business still operating such as a nail salon or bowling alley could be penalized.

“But as a rule of thumb, we're not going to be out there just stopping vehicles. We’re not a police state,” he stated.

But, he wants people to know deputies can people ask why they are out and about.

In Galveston County, there is also a stay-at-home order and League City took it a step further. On Tuesday, the city passed an ordinance raising the fine for violating the order to up to $2,000.

Gonzalez says ultimately how long we want to be under orders like this is up to us.

"We're trying to flatten the curve and the more we can keep people home, that's the best thing, if not it will just continue to prolong orders such as this,” he concluded.