Education, awareness and voluntary compliance – that’s the directive Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is giving his officers when they first come across businesses in violation of local orders put in place to flatten the curve.

The directive to officers under the city of Houston's order is geared towards bars and night clubs that violate the order to close and restaurants that allow dining in. It said officers should go by the following enforcement procedure.

READ IT: HPD posted orders given to officers about enforcement

First, the officer should educate the person or persons in charge of the business that they’re in violation. If the person or person complies, the officer is to just give a verbal warning.

If that business continues to violate, the officer can issue a citation or even arrest the violator. Citations can only be given if a supervisor is notified and approves of it. And before an arrest is made, a supervisor must be called out and also determine an arrest is warranted. Still, before the arrest happens, the shift lieutenant must be notified and a ‘significant event notification must be completed.

A violation of the order is a Class C misdemeanor. Punishment is a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $2,000.    

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The directive is similar for enforcement of the county’s ‘Stay home, work safe’ order, which mandated that non-essential businesses that must be closed.

Businesses that should remain closed during the county order include, gyms, fitness centers, swimming pools and other facilities for training, martial arts or recreation, as well as hair and nail salons, spas, licensed massage businesses and tattoo parlors, concert halls, live performance theaters, arenas, stadiums, movie theaters, game rooms, bowling alleys, arcades, indoor and outdoor flea markets and swap meets, indoor shopping center and Bingo halls.

It also mandates that people stay home unless they work at an essential business. Homeless people are exempt from the order, but they do still need to maintain social distancing. So does anyone else who is outside.

Officers should again try to educate violators first. If that works, they are to just give a verbal warning. But if that doesn’t work, a supervisor must go to the scene and also try to get voluntary compliance.  If that still doesn’t work, the supervisor has to notify the shift lieutenant before contacting the intake chief at the Harris County DA’s office to determine if charges will be accepted.

If an arrest is made, a ‘significant event notification’ must be completed.

Violators could face a fine not to exceeds $1,000 or not more than 180 days in jail.

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Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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