A Texas judge ruled Friday that El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s shutdown order was valid. The order, issued in response to rising COVID-19 cases, temporarily closes all non-essential businesses in the area.
Directly after Samaniego issued the shutdown order over a week ago, a group of restaurant owners filed a lawsuit to have the order declared illegal. The Texas Attorney General’s office joined the lawsuit. In response, state district judge William Moody simply denied the group’s request to stop the order, citing the urgency of the pandemic and the unprecedented number of new cases. To date, El Paso is seeing more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases each day.
Although the El Paso Police Department is prepared to enforce the shutdown order, Moody’s decision has already been appealed by the Attorney General for Texas and the original coalition of owners. The Attorney General claims that Samaniego’s order is illegal because it contradicts the governor’s order to reopen businesses. Meanwhile, some businesses have chosen to defy the order and remain open in the wake of this legal uncertainty.