Author’s note: This is late breaking news that is ongoing right now. We will make updates to the article as more information becomes available. Also, I am uncomfortable using unsourced information but in this case it is impossible to have anyone go on the record.
Article Update on October 29, 2020 at 6:41 p.m.
The County Judge says that he expects the City to enforce the order and has no doubt that they will. There are no jail penalties for violations, only fines will be levied. However, the El Paso Politics has learned that there may be legal challenges filed as early as tomorrow. We will continue to monitor and update as information becomes available.
Article Update on October 29, 2020 at 5:46 p.m.
City officials were not present at the announcement.
Article Update on October 29, 2020 at 5:38 p.m.
County Judge Samaniego Issues Closure Order For All Non-Essential Business Starting At Midnight Tonight
The Order (No. 13)
Effective at midnight tonight, Judge Samaniego is ordering a shutdown of all non-essential services for a two-week period.
For the duration of this order, all individuals living within the County of El Paso are ordered to temporarily stay at home or at their place of residence unless they are working in an essential job or accessing essential services.
All businesses that are non-essential must close:
- Tattoo Parlors
- Hair Salons
- Nail Salons
- Massage businesses
- In-person dining
Retail- and food-to-go is still permitted.
- All essential businesses remain open:
- Polling Sites*
- Schools that provide meal services
- Childcare facilities
- Grocery stores
- Funeral services
- All healthcare offices and facilities
- Government operations
- Post offices
- And others listed in Order
Election Activities are an essential services and not affected by this Order
- Election activities shall be considered an essential function and under no circumstances does this Order affect the voting or campaigning for candidates on the November 3, 2020 ballot.
- Election activities shall continue to follow Public Health Authority Orders and Guidelines relating to election activities.
- The public should be assured that election activities are safe and significant steps have been taken to provide a sanitary environment as well as follow all appropriate social distancing and face covering measures.
- ALL POLLING SITES SHALL REMAIN OPEN to continue election activities.
Cases of Covid-19 have been spiking in El Paso in recent days. Because of the rise in pandemic cases, El Paso made national headline news. On Monday, the El Paso City Council held a heated discussion over what restrictions to impose on the City due to the rise of Coronavirus cases. Cases in El Paso have surpassed 45,000.
Hospitals are being overrun to the point that tents are being set up to handle overflows of patients.
On October 25, 2020, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued Order No: 12 ordering a curfew between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The order went into effect the same day.
Earlier today, Mayor Dee Margo was to hold a press conference at 1:00 p.m. The press conference was cancelled a little before noon. County Judge Samaniego is scheduled to hold a press conference at 5:00 this afternoon.
Samaniego To Order Shutdown
Unconfirmed reports have indicated that the County Judge will announce a shutdown of the county at the press conference.
The El Paso Politics has received information from two individuals with first-hand knowledge that the county judge will issue the shutdown order.
One individual, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak on the record, told the El Paso Politics that Samaniego will likely announce that “only essential businesses may open” under the proposed order.
It is unclear how “essential businesses” will be defined but another individual told us that “essential businesses” will be those as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
An individual in the advocacy sector, who asked to remain anonymous, told the El Paso Politics that they were told by the mayor’s office that Samaniego would order a shut down of El Paso later in the afternoon.
Several business owners that the El Paso Politics spoke to on the condition that we not name them have told us that they have heard rumors of a shutdown order today.
The El Paso Politics has submitted a request for comment from the County Judge and we will update this article when we receive a response.
El Paso businesses are hurting because of the shutdowns. Some have shared that they are behind on their business rents and are unable to make payroll. Long-time El Paso-staple businesses like Tacotote, Kikis Restaurant and Sorrentos, among others have closed their doors permanently. In the case of Tacotote, they have only closed their location near UTEP.
Leadership Fails El Paso
While interviewing sources for confirmation about the closure order, the El Paso Politics heard numerous comments about the “inconsistent” rules and regulations from all levels of government. One source put it more succinctly, “what an utter lack of leadership.” Many business owners are complaining that their businesses are suffering from the border closures.
One source in particular stated that “Samaniego and Margo are not talking to each other.”
This is breaking news and we will be monitoring the situation. As details become available, we will update the article with the new information. Stay tuned to this article for updates. Updates will be added to the top.