• January 28, 2022
 8th Court of Appeals halts portions of ‘Stay Home Order,’ County Judge issues statement, clarification

8th Court of Appeals halts portions of ‘Stay Home Order,’ County Judge issues statement, clarification

After the ruling by the 8th Court of Appeals, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego released the following statement, as well as a clarification as to those portions of the ‘Stay Home Order’ the court let stand.

The court, via a 2 to 1 decision, granted a temporary emergency order effectively halting Samaniego’s mandated shutdown involving non-essential businesses.
For his part, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted, “I commend the Eighth Court of Appeals for stopping El Paso County Judge Samaniego’s shutdown order – pending the final decision on the merits. It is important that we do not shutdown the economy ever again, & this decision allows small businesses to continue to operate & pay employees.”
Below is the County Judge’s statement:
Tonight, the 8th Court of Appeals, in a 2 to 1 decision, enjoined only certain sections of the County’s Stay Home Order. While I am extremely disappointed in the ruling, I will honor the Court’s decision. Our family members, our friends, and our neighbors are dying, and our hospitals, funeral homes, and morgues are at capacity.
El Paso has had 40,000 new cases in the last 30 days, and 20,000 new cases since the Halloween weekend. This is 10,000 new positive COVID-19 cases per week. Today, the El Paso Health Department reported 29 additional deaths which sadly brings us to a total of 725 deaths.
El Paso is currently at 54% of Covid-19 hospitalizations and we are still at STAGE 1 on El Paso’s COVID-19 Community Scorecard. Stage 1 is the worst rating on the scorecard.
For clarity, the 8th Court of Appeals also made clear that certain sections of the County’s Order do remain enforceable.
The sections which are enforceable tonight are:
    • The limitation on non-essential businesses, with limited exceptions, remains at 50% occupancy;
    • All restaurants in the County shall cease all dine-in services by 9:00 PM. After 9:00 PM, restaurants are limited to take out and drive-thru only.
    • Gatherings remain limited to no more than 10 people;
    • Bars remain closed;
    • Masks remain mandatory in public except under very limited situations;
Tomorrow, after a final ruling by the 8th Court of Appeals, I will issue a final order. For tonight, I strongly urge citizens to stay home, wear masks and socially distance themselves from others. Additionally, I will be exploring legal permissible options to stop the spread of the virus. I will be looking to the business community and others to create a safe pathway moving forward.
Of course, I sympathize with our businesses who are hurting, I sympathize with families who have lost their loved ones, and I sympathize with our frontline healthcare workers who are exhausted and overwhelmed. This pandemic has taken its toll on all of us and I am hopeful that we can all work together so that in the months to come we do not find ourselves in a more horrible situation. We can’t repeat our mistakes in re-opening without thoughtful restrictions. We owe it to our community to do better.
I sincerely believe that being born and raised in El Paso has given me the passion and determination to earnestly protect our community. This has been my main goal since the beginning of this pandemic. Who should be held accountable for the inevitable surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations and the further indignation of souls at our morgues?  There will not be a better time for us to be “El Paso Strong” than at this critical point in time.
The City of El Paso also released the following statement:
City of El Paso Returns to Enforcing Previous Emergency Directive

EL PASO, Texas—The 8th Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Nov. 12th granting the State of Texas’ request for temporary relief; requiring the County and City to revert to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32 and the City’s Sixth Local Emergency Directive which were issued prior to the County’s Order No. 13.

“This means that the City of El Paso will need to restore enforcement of the Local Emergency Directive issued on October 15, 2020 and GA-32,” said City Attorney Karla Nieman.

Mayor Dee Margo said, “Today’s ruling from the 8th Court of Appeals restores our previous directive; and as I have stated, the City must follow the law. We must balance the lives and the livelihoods of our community, and this requires all of us to change our social behavior.”

The Sixth Local Emergency Directive includes the following restrictions:

  • Activities Subject to Restrictions

o   Gatherings

  • Any outdoor gathering in excess of 10 people is prohibited.

o   Elderly Care Facilities

  • Except for in extreme cases, (i.e., end of life, compassionate care or other emergent situations), people may not visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities.

o   Parades

  • Organizations planning on having parades must limit the number of participants to 10 individuals or less.

o   Sports

  • With the exception of professional sports, all indoor sports are postponed, and outdoor sports must not allow spectator attendance.

o   Every business establishment shall operate at no more than 50 percent of the total listed occupancy of the establishment (For more specific details see Local Health Authority Orders)

  • Essential/CISA organizations are not impacted by this Directive.

o   All restaurant dine-in services, to include outdoor service, such as on a patio or similar seating area, shall end at 9 p.m., but may continue after 9 p.m. via take out and drive thru only. Restaurants may resume dine-in services, to include outdoor service, beginning at 6 a.m.

o   People shall not visit bars or similar establishments.

  • Minimize In-Person Contact

o   All individuals are strongly encouraged to limit leaving their homes for essential purposes only.

  • Individuals shall have no home gatherings with individuals not within their household.
  • Individuals who serve as a caretaker to individuals living in a different home setting, may continue to visit those individuals to provide necessary care.
  • If members of the household have been out of the residence in the previous 14 days, the remaining members of the household should maintain appropriate social distancing from the family members that left the residence.
  • People over the age of 65, are strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible; to maintain appropriate distance from any member of the household who has been out of the residence in the previous 14 days; and if leaving home, to implement safety protocols.

o   Gathering at City Parks

  • As previously announced, with the exception of walking, hiking, and bike trails, City parks remain closed. City playgrounds and walking trails within and around a City park remain open.

o   Face Covering Requirement

  • Because an infected person can transmit the COVID-19 virus to others before showing any symptoms, the covering of a person’s nose and mouth is necessary to help slow the spread of the virus. It is imperative that every person in El Paso wear some form of face covering over their nose and mouth (some exceptions apply – see 6th Local Emergency Directive). Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing. Following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator of this face covering requirement, a person’s second violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250. Each subsequent violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 per violation.
  • Laboratory Confirmed COVID-19 Test Results

o   An individual that receives a positive COVID-19 test result but has not yet been contacted by the City’s Department of Public Health within 24 hours of receiving the laboratory results, must isolate; and those from within their household must quarantine, and report to (915) 212-6520 within 24 hours of receiving the positive test result.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

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