HOUSTON — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo says officers will use “common sense and courtesy” when enforcing the “Stay home, Work safe” order issued by the city and Harris County.

The order goes into effect 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 and continues through April 3.

“Let’s make something clear, the city is not on lock down, that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the chief said Tuesday morning.

Chief Acevedo is asking for residents to use good judgment when following the order outlined by Mayor Sylvester Turner and Judge Lina Hidalgo.

“What we are doing us asking people on the order from the judge and the mayor is to exercise good judgement, to do what America does best and that is to play by the rules,” he said. “People do not need go to running to their markets and hoarding everything.”

Chief Acevedo said his department will use compassion when trying to get violators to comply with the stay home, work safe order.

“At the end of the day what the police department is going to do is use comment sense and courtesy,” the chief said. “We’re going to ask people when we think they are doing something in violation of this order, we are going to ask people to comply, and we believe by using some compassion, and quite frankly some common courtesy, that we be able to be just fine.”

Chief Acevedo explained that just like with his officers, space and distance is safety.

“The enemy is a virus, and when we create space and create distance, we protect one another,” the chief said. “Common sense goes a long way, give yourself some leeway, create a safety cushion around you when you are in a public space, and everybody will be fine.”

The chief said that just because the stay home order was issued it does not mean it is a time to panic.

“I have a lot of confidence in the people of Houston, we have great leadership with the mayor and the judge, and quite frankly, we have great first responders,” the chief said. “This is not a time to panic, it is not a time to go out a hoard, it is a time to do what we do best and that be courteous, kind and listen to what is going on around you.”

The chief said he expects people to do the right thing and use common sense when it comes to complying with the order.

“We are going to be enforcing the spirit of this law, not necessary the letter, quite frankly, I think most people will do what we all do which is obey and comply with the commonsense measures.”

Stay home, work safe order

The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. March 24 (Tuesday night) and will stay in effect until at least April 3. Those who do not comply with the order and attend large gatherings or parties, for instance, could face a fine and up to 180 day in jail, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

Judge Hidalgo said for those who must work, they should maintain six feet from each other. She also noted citizens can still handle the business they need to deal with, like caring for a pet or a family member in another household. Religious worship services can continue via online streaming and video conferencing.

Stores, daycares and parks will remain open

Essential businesses, like grocery stores, will remain open. And restaurants can continue to provide takeout and deliveries. Daycares that provide support for essential employees will remain open.

City and county parks will also remain open, although Hidalgo warned that people must keep their distance from each other. Park workout equipment and playgrounds should not be touched or used.

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.

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.

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.

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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