EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — On Saturday, the El Paso County Constable’s were out patrolling, looking for businesses not complying with El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s shutdown order.
On Friday, District Judge William Moody ruled that the shutdown order will remain in effect. This comes after the Texas Attorney General filed a motion to temporarily suspend El Paso County’s two-week shutdown, saying the shutdown is unlawful.
The El Paso County Constable’s Office has been enforcing the shutdown for the past week. Sgt. Francisco Almada told KTSM 9 News on Saturday that since the district judge ruled on Friday, more businesses are closing their doors in compliance.
“We have seen a lot of compliance from businesses and individuals, which we are happy about, but we do want to continue until the judges’ order does cease,” said Almada.
He added that there are still some businesses not wanting to shut down and he wants to remind the community why the Constables are enforcing the shutdown order.
“The mission is not to issue citations, but rather we are trying to enforce the order, so people are aware, and we’re trying to mitigate that spread of COVID,” said Sgt. Almada.
Almada said there are currently three different ways the Constable’s Office is finding those businesses around El Paso that are still operating despite the order.
“Tips have been coming in from the public, some of them are dispatch calls from the 911 call center and there’s also some that if the deputy is out on patrol and they do observe a possible violation, they will stop and investigate to see if a violation has occurred,” said Almada.
On Saturday the constables were checking on businesses in East El Paso to see if they were complying, coming across a few that were still operating despite the shutdown order.
“There were cars in the parking lot which kind of gave us the impression that there was dine-in occurring inside the restaurant,” said Almada.
Almada and his team stopped at Landry’s Restaurant in East El Paso after seeing cars in the parking lot. Deputies found customers dining outdoors.
“Which we did advise is still in violation of the order which in time he did say he was not aware,” said Alamada after speaking with the manager of Landry’s, who agreed to ask customers to leave. “Because of his compliance and himself volunteering to comply with the order, we did issue him a warning.”
KTSM 9 News spoke with a customer who had just finished eating when the constable’s arrived.
“We had already paid, so we were walking out and that’s when we saw all the constables outside,” said Carlos Diaz De Leon, a customer.
KTSM asked Diaz De Leon if he would eat out again in the next week after what happened.
“It’s a little scary. I’m not going to lie to you, not knowing if you’re going to be cited as a patron or what’s going to happen. But yeah, I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what happens on Thursday,” said Diaz De Leon.
The County Judge’s order will last for a few more days. As of Friday, the El Paso Police Department is also enforcing the shutdown order following the District Judge’s ruling.
However, the Attorney Generals’ office has filed a notice of appeal.