Texas county’s pandemic restrictions halted – at least temporarily

A few days ago, Texas became the second state to hit a grim pandemic milestone when it passed 1 million cases of Covid-19. California was the first state to pass the million mark.

The numbers are growing faster than ever, as the virus surges in both states and in many other places around the nation.

Pandemic-related litigation rising, too

There is no consensus in Texas on how best to deal with the virus, with cities and counties finding opposition no matter which approach they take to curtail the pandemic. The conflicts often include lawsuits filed by businesses against government entities and suits filed by different governmental bodies against one another, as evidenced in West Texas, where Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising rapidly in the El Paso area.

Some measures put in place in El Paso County to slow the virus’s spread have been stopped – at least temporarily – by the Eighth Court of Appeals.

Restrictions put on hold

The court put on hold business closures and a curfew that had been put in place by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego (the county’s chief executive – not a judicial officer). The ruling resulted from a lawsuit area restaurant owners and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed, claiming Samaniego’s order conflicted with orders issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo also pushed back against Samaniego’s restrictions.

Samaniego had ordered eateries in the border city to halt in-person dining because of the region’s flood of virus cases.

Stay-at-home order

Samaniego’s two-week stay-at-home order allowed restaurants to continue to offer their wares for delivery or pickup. However, Paxton and a group of restaurant owners argued that the order exceeded limits imposed by Abbot, who allowed restaurants and bars to seat and serve patrons at 75 percent of capacity.

The lawsuit stated that the pandemic does not justify Samaniego’s alleged attempt “to take the law into his own hands.”