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Harris County mask rule in effect: Some stores may not let you in, trespass charges can be filed

"All private businesses retain the right to refuse entry to those who refuse to wear a mask," warns Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

HOUSTON — Harris County's 30-day rule on face coverings went into effect Monday, which means if you're over the age of 10 and in public, you should have your nose and mouth covered with some kind of mask, cloth or garment.

The order aims to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, as Texas continues its reopening phases.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo early Monday tweeted a warning for those who don't comply with stores' requests and requirements for shoppers to wear masks.

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Acevedo tweeted that while Houston officers will be "primarily seeking voluntary compliance"... "all private businesses retain the right to refuse entry to those who refuse to wear a mask. Please know you could be given a criminal trespass pursuant to Texas Statute."

Harris County Sheriff's Ed Gonzalez tweeted Monday morning that his deputies are also not planning on giving tickets:

"At @HCSOTexas we are not planning to give tickets or anything. We want to keep people safe and give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people understand the seriousness of #COVID19, will look at things through a public health lens, and use good judgment. I am very impressed."

In public places in Harris County, the order states violators could face a fine up to $1,000. The enforcement, however, is again up to the law enforcement agencies within Harris County (sheriff's office, constables offices, police, etc).

H-E-B previously stated its stores would require customers and employees to wear masks or face coverings, when required by local laws. An early April press release read, in part: “H-E-B strongly encourages our customers to wear masks while in our stores. Some cities have passed laws requiring the use of masks while in public and H-E-B will follow those regulations. Our Partners as well as customers must wear a proper face covering to enter our stores in cities where the law requires people to wear masks while in public.”

H-E-B is providing its employees with masks and gloves for use while at work.

“Additionally, vendors will be required to wear masks inside our stores and other H-E-B facilities.”

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Editor's note: this story was edited at 10:05 a.m. to include a tweet from Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.


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