The 34th District Court today denied the State of Texas’ request for a temporary injunction and ruled that County Order No. 13 is in force. County Order No. 13 orders all persons living within the County, to include the City of El Paso, to temporarily stay at home unless traveling for essential/emergency activities. Additionally, all persons shall stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless traveling for essential/emergency activities.
The El Paso Police Department, all City code and emergency personnel will enforce County Order 13 effective immediately.
ABOUT THE ORDER
The Order requires all non-essential businesses to close immediately; to include, but not limited to, tattoo parlors, hair salons, nail salons, gyms and massage businesses. Additionally, restaurants are able to continue providing to-go and curbside services; however, restaurants cannot conduct in-person dining per County Order No. 13.
Essential businesses that may remain open include but are not limited to polling sites, schools that provide meal services, childcare facilities, grocery stores, funeral services, all healthcare offices and facilities, pharmacies, government operations, post offices, and retail-to-go services. The public is reminded that the City continues to enforce the countywide curfew between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless performing or obtaining essential or emergency services. Violations of the curfew are enforceable with fines of up to $500. To view County Order No. 13 visit EPStrong.org and click on County Orders under the Orders tab.
On Oct. 26, 2020, the City Council discussed several items including: calling for the closure of all non-essential indoor businesses; additional masks mandates while indoors; and face-to-face instruction for secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. No action was taken on these agenda items, as the Council did not reach a majority consensus. Therefore, City staff were governed by the existing City and County Orders in effect.
On Oct. 29, 2020, the County of El Paso issued Order No. 13 without Governor Greg Abbott’s approval. On the same day, the Texas Attorney General issued written guidance to Mayor Dee Margo stating that the County Judge’s Order goes beyond what is allowed by the Governor’s Executive Order, and was “unlawful and unenforceable.”
On Oct. 30, 2020, a lawsuit was filed by several business owners and the State of Texas also joined the lawsuit. On the same day, the County Attorney issued an opinion stating that the Texas Disaster Act authorizes the County Judge to issue emergency orders during a declaration of disaster.
All City employees are government officials who have a duty to comply with the laws of the State and local laws. That means they are required to enforce both State and local laws. With the issuance of County Order No. 13, the City faced two conflicting orders and two opposing attorney opinions. Today’s Court ruling clarifies the conflicting orders and allows the City to enforce County Order No. 13.