EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso border region is going into a lockdown of nonessential activity as of 11:59 p.m. today.

Mayor Dee Margo and El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order this morning to suppress the spread of COVID-19. The order is effective until further notice.

“We must protect the health and safety of this community. We cannot wait until it is too late, so we must continue working to stay ahead of the wave of cases and help flatten the curve by suppression of this virus,” Margo said. “It is very important that residents and businesses cooperate to make this effort as successful as possible to keep our community healthy.”

The order applies to everyone in El Paso County to work safe and stay home with the exceptions of essential businesses and activities; to include but not limited to:

  • Emergency personnel
  • Healthcare personnel
  • Groceries
  • Financial, critical trades
  • Postal services
  • Food delivery or pick-up
  • Home-based care
  • Childcare
  • Media
  • Those performing essential government functions

The order will continue until further notice and those who are found violating it could face a fine of up to $1,000 or be jailed for up to 180 days. To report non-compliance, people can send an email to COVIDCompliance@elpasotexas.gov or call 311.

“This decision wasn’t an easy one. We’re dealing with lives vs. livelihoods,” Margo said.

He added that he and Samaniego sought and received input from stakeholders such as the business and health care community.

‘We are trying to suppress this virus so we can get back to normal,” Margo said. ‘We must all do our part to relieve the burden on the health care industry. We cannot afford to wait until our hospitals are overwhelmed. We cannot wait until we lose a life to take action.”

The Mayor said he’s aware of the strain the order will place on small businesses and families, in particular, but he urged them to cooperate to keep the community healthy. 
He also urged social distancing even when going out to buy groceries and added that he’s fielded reports of “house parties.” He said that must stop.

“If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you have it, stay home, stay away from others, wear a facemask, cover your mouth,” Margo said.

The order may sound alarming, but it is not much different from what El Paso residents are currently being asked to do. Shelter-in-place asks people to stay home and only go out for essentials such as groceries, doctor visits, and necessary work.

City officials are asking everyone to refrain from shopping, visiting friends or interacting with people without a legitimate purpose.