As you may have seen, Harris County issued a “Stay Home-Work Safe” order this morning, which will go into effect at 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, March 24 and will continue through April 3. This follows on Galveston County issuing a similar order yesterday.
The big question for HAR Members is about whether real estate services would be included as an essential service and could continue to operate during this time. We are happy to say, YES, for Harris County, which includes the City of Houston. The following is the text of the relevant section from the order:
xvi. Professional services. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, insurances services, and “real estate services” when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities or to further Essential Businesses, Essential Government functions, or Critical Infrastructure.
You may also go here to see the complete order: https://agenda.harriscountytx.gov/2020/03-24-20StayHomeWorkSafe.pdf
HAR President and CEO Bob Hale spoke via phone during the Harris County Commissioners Court meeting this morning and argued forcefully for the inclusion of real estate as essential.
As Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at the press conference when she announced the order, everyone should work from home unless your job is required for the health and safety of the community. People may leave their homes to go to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, pharmacy, exercise outside, etc. At all times, people must still maintain the social distancing standard of keeping six feet between you and anyone else. As they have been already, restaurants will continue to operate on delivery, takeout or drive-thru only. Note that the Galveston County order does not include real estate services as essential at this time. We have been in contact with all of the county elected officials in our region and will continue to communicate with them as they determine what actions they will take next. Things are changing rapidly, so it is likely other counties will issue similar orders in the coming days.