El Paso COVID-19 compliance team looks to increase enforcement

El Paso News

City leaders are looking to cover more ground when it comes to inspecting businesses failing to comply with safety guidelines.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — City leaders are looking to cover more ground when it comes to inspecting businesses failing to comply with safety guidelines.

The most common concern is bars operating as restaurants.

Since the pandemic began, the City said the COVID-19 compliance team has been working hard by issuing warnings and citations to some of those businesses. However, the team says communicating and educating the businesses about complying with guidelines is also important.

“I know several of my constituents have made complaints about bars or restaurants, bars that are now operating as restaurants under the new guidelines, that are clearly not obeying the social distance ordinance,” City Rep. Alexsandra Annello said.

During Monday’s special meeting, City Council wanted to remind the public that TABC is responsible for relaxing certain policies. This includes allowing bars to apply and if approved, get a license to operate as a restaurant.

“TABC has relaxed those policies to make it easier for bars to open and not the city,” City Rep. Henry Rivera added.

This is a list of the locations with liquor license suspensions.

Currently, 12 citations have been issued to businesses by the City’s COVID-19 compliance team. Majority of those are bars.

“The calls very often will start to show the trends of where the hotspots are. If you keep calling it in, then that suddenly will keeping showing it up as a data point as one of the hotspots if we’re getting several calls,” Ellen Smyth, COVID-19 Response & Recovery Cross-Functional team said.

The compliance team is expected to cover more ground soon, “We’ve ordered new vehicles that are being delivered this week, next week and they’re unmarked vehicles for the police department so they can blend in with the rest of the population,” Smyth added.

As for the businesses who continue to break the rules, they could soon face the consequences.

“Now the face of enforcement is going to be very important because there’s no excuses for people not to know and you’re going to have these very defiant establishments that we’re going to join resources and shut them down,” Commander Humberto Talamantes with the El Paso Police Department said.

Council is expected to discuss the topic again at Tuesday’s regular meeting, and talk more about increasing enforcement.

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