EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The 8th District Court of Appeals handed down their opinion on El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s shutdown order on Friday, ruling that County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s order does not supersede the Governor’s order.
El Paso must return to the restrictions put in place before County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s shutdown order. Non-essential businesses must operate at no more than 50 percent occupancy and restaurants must close dine-in at 9 pm. Gatherings are limited to no more than ten people, bars must remain closed and masks are required in public.
The back and forth has left El Paso small business owners frustrated with the uncertainty, finding themselves caught in the middle of a legal battle.
“At this point when they said that we had to be shut down until Dec. 1st, that kind of did scare me a little bit, not going to lie,” said Ruth Salazar who owns a beauty salon in Central El Paso.
Salazar told KTSM 9 News she has kept her salon closed for the past two weeks, but after hearing that the County Judge extended the order she got worried.
“Small businesses like mine, I don’t have high traffic coming in and out of my doors. So for them to say you have to shut down because you have to help with the pandemic, yet these big stores are staying open and they have hundreds of people crowding in and they’re acting like it’s already Black Friday, it’s just very frustrating,” said Salazar.
Another El Paso small business owner Krisiann Rivera owns a tailoring and ironing company which is considered essential. Despite being allowed to operate she says if the shutdown was to last till December she would close her business, saying she won’t be able to pay her taxes.
“I do believe it is directly affected because of the shutdowns because once the shutdowns happened the first time business slowed down to a trickle and now it’s non-existent almost,” she said.
“I’m lucky if I get one customer in here,” said Rivera.
One El Paso business owner planned a protest for Friday morning at the El Paso City Hall.
“I’m kind of tired of people not saying anything we need to stand up for ourselves,” said Megan Harris and El Paso small business owner and organizer of the protest.
She said she was expecting about 1,000 small business owners to join but decided to postpone due to the 8th Court of Appeals temporarily halting the shutdown order on Thursday night. However, she says the protest is not canceled, just postponed.
“I want to find out what the leadership, I’m really hoping they get reins on this and hear our voices and say. ‘you know what, it’s time we do things the right way. If we are planning a shutdown, we need to let businesses owners know,'” said Megan Harris.