Increases in Coronavirus Hospitalizations Triggers Reopening Rollbacks in El Paso and Lubbock

October 29, 2020 | Insights



By Kate Goodrich

Update: On the evening of October 29, 2020, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued Order No. 13 “Stay Home/Stay Safe.” Order No. 13 supersedes all prior orders unless referenced in Order No. 13. Order No. 13 went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, 2020, and will expire on Wednesday, November 11, 2020.

El Paso Imposes a Countywide Curfew From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

After a surge in coronavirus cases, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent strain on local hospitals, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued Order No. 12, which imposed a mandatory curfew on the county. Residents are now only permitted to leave their residences from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for emergency reasons or for accessing or providing certain essential services. Even during hours outside the curfew, the El Paso order requires residents to stay home unless for essential activities. Permitted Essential Covered Services include:

  • Engaging in activities essential to health and safety (for example, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home)
  • Obtaining or delivering necessary services, supplies or products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of households (for example, obtaining groceries and supplies needed for the home)
  • Engaging in outdoor activities following CDC guidance and complying with physical distancing
  • Performing work to provide essential products and services at essential covered businesses
  • Caring for a family member, child, or pet in another household
  • Election activities
  • Religious activities.

Under the order, election activities are also separately deemed an essential service. Individuals leaving their homes for essential services are required to limit their visit to one member of the household, unless serving as a caregiver.

The order mandates that to the greatest extent possible, all travel within El Paso County should be limited to obtaining or performing Essential Covered Services, travel as permitted by law, or for the following purposes, with a limitation that only persons from the same household should occupy a single vehicle:

  • Travel related to the provision or access to essential covered services
  • Any travel for employment purposes, to include for non-essential services and employment
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from education institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, receiving meals, and business operations
  • Travel to return to a place of residence, including from outside the jurisdiction
  • Travel required by First Responders, Law Enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their places of residence outside El Paso County
  • Travel for voters, election workers, poll watchers, and electioneering.

Public transportation may only be used for purposes of obtaining or performing Essential Covered Services, to travel to and from work for the purpose of providing Covered Services, or for persons obtaining or going to work in the non-essential service sector.

The order continues the prior face covering mandate and the mandatory adoption of health and safety policies by businesses, and also continues the restriction on visits to nursing homes, state supported living facilities, and long-term care facilities. Parades, which had previously been permitted with participation limits, are prohibited.

All county owned facilities, including parks and recreational facilities, are ordered closed for a two-week period.

Businesses, other than essential covered businesses that cannot provide curbside, drive-through, or take-out services are highly encouraged and recommended to cease all activities. Businesses are permitted to operate, however, but at no more than 50% of total listed occupancy of the establishment with no occupancy limit for:

  • Any services listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 4.0. or any subsequent version
  • Religious services
  • Local government operations
  • Child-care services
  • Youth camps
  • Outdoor recreational sports programs for youths and adults, without spectators
  • Any public or private schools, and any public or private institutions of higher education
  • Drive-in concerts, movies or similar events, with certain limitations
  • Various types of listed licensed facilities that provide cosmetic services.

There is no occupancy limit for outdoor areas, events or establishments, with the exception that amusement parks, water parks, swimming pools, museums and libraries, and zoos and similar facilities may operate at no more than 50% of the normal operating limits, as determined by the owner. Outdoor gatherings in excess of 10 people are prohibited.

Outdoor professional and similar sporting events, including rodeos and equestrian events are limited to 50% of the normal operating limits as determined by the owner. Professional sporting events may allow spectators as provided in the order, State Minimum Standard Health Protocols, and as determined by the order. No spectators may attend other types of sporting events. Except for indoor professional sporting events, all indoor sporting events are suspended. School districts are strongly encouraged to suspend all extracurricular activities to include sports activities for the duration of the order.

Bars or similar establishments that hold a permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) that are not restaurants may not operate but may provide drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options as allowed by the TABC.

Individuals who receive a positive COVID-19 test result must isolate and report their results within 24 hours to the Department of Public Health. Those from within their household must quarantine.

The order supersedes all prior County orders not referenced within the order. Law enforcement officials are authorized to enforce the order. Unless an alternate penalty is provided with a specific section of the order, it is a Class C Misdemeanor to violate the order. Violations are punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. First-time violations of the face-covering requirement are subject to verbal or written warning, while second and subsequent violations are punishable by a fine not to exceed $250.

The El Paso order comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is deploying teams to help local officials combat the coronavirus surge in the El Paso area. HHS will send two 35-person Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and a Trauma Critical Care Team to the region along with other assistance, according to a press release from the Governor.

The order went into effect Sunday, October 25, and is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on November 8.

Lubbock Now Subject to Rollback of Occupancy Limits and Outdoor Gathering Restrictions to Comply With Governor’s Executive Order

Also on Sunday, October 25, the city of Lubbock announced in a press release that for seven consecutive days in Trauma Service Area (TSA) B, which includes Lubbock, the percentage of COVID-19 confirmed patients in regional hospitals as a percentage of available hospital beds exceeded 15%.

According to Governor Abbott’s Executive Order 31 and Executive Order 32, this makes TSA B an area with high hospitalization, which triggers certain business occupancy pull-backs. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission requires bars that were opened per EO 32 to close and businesses whose occupancy rates were increased to 75% to now be reduced to 50%. The occupancy reduction will primarily impact restaurants, amusements, libraries, event centers and other businesses not listed under the CISA guidance or covered by other exemptions contained in EO 32. In addition to these closures and occupancy reductions, area hospitals now are subject to other restrictions as found in EO 31, including the postponement of elective medical procedures. TSA B will remain under these restrictions until the percentage of COVID-19 confirmed patients in regional hospitals as a percentage of available hospital beds remains at or below 15% for seven consecutive days.

Additionally, according to a press release, the City of Lubbock will return to the outdoor gathering restrictions set forth by EO GA-32 beginning on November 1. EO 32 outlines that all outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited unless authorized by the Mayor.

The following outdoor activities/events are exempted from this order, thus not prohibited:

  • youth camps, including daytime and overnight camps
  • youth and adult recreational sporting events/programs
  • any public or private schools, and any public or private institutions of higher education
  • drive-in concerts, movies, or similar events
  • religious services

According to the press release, this order applies only to outdoor events within the Lubbock city limits, and will not affect any outdoor events that have already been approved by the city that are occurring on or before October 31.

GA-32 took effect statewide on October 14, but the provisions for reduced business capacity had not applied to Lubbock or TSA-B before October 25.

For the most recent information on these rapidly changing COVID-19 updates, visit JW.com/Coronavirus.

Related Resources:

Please note: This article and any resources presented on the Jackson Walker Coronavirus microsite do not constitute legal or medical advice.


In This Story

Kate Goodrich
Governmental Affairs Consultant, Austin

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