EL PASO COUNTY JUDGE PROHIBITS ALL PUBLIC OUTDOOR GATHERINGS ON FOURTH OF JULY, PROHIBITS SALE AND USE OF FIREWORKS BEGINNING FRIDAY
El Paso, Texas – In order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, El Paso County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego issued Order No. 10, which prohibits all public outdoor gatherings in the unincorporated areas of El Paso County until after the Fourth of July weekend. This Order is effective immediately and shall be in effect until 6 a.m. on Monday, July 6, 2020-after the Fourth of July weekend. This order is issued in accordance with authority granted to the Judge by the Governor. Additionally, because drought conditions present high risk of wildfires, the Judge will issue a disaster declaration preventing the sale and use of fireworks effective beginning Friday, July 3.
“It is critical that we all do our part to keep our community safe,” said Judge Samaniego. “While fireworks and Fourth of July festivities are a part of who we are as a community, we must remember the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, and that cases in our community and in the state are continuing to rise. For these reasons, I believe we must be especially prudent. Congregating this Fourth of July is simply a public health concern.”
Order No. 10, prohibiting gatherings on Fourth of July:
Pursuant to Governor Greg Abbott’s latest executive order issued Friday (GA-28), outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments. Consistent with this order, Order No. 10 prohibits all public outdoor gatherings in the unincorporated areas of El Paso County immediately and until after the Fourth of July weekend.
Judge Samaniego consulted with both the Fire Marshall and Dr. Hector Ocaranza, who all expect that, as in years past, Fourth of July weekend celebrations in various unincorporated areas in El Paso County will attract hundreds and thousands of people. Dr. Ocaranza agrees that these gatherings will likely result in dramatic increases in COVID-19 positive cases and deaths.
A violation of this order shall be a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500.
Disaster declaration prohibiting sale and use of fireworks:
Pursuant to the Local Government Code, to be able to restrict fireworks, Texas counties must reach 575 on the Keetch Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a statewide 0-to-800 scale drought index that is updated daily by the Texas A&M Forest Service. The higher the number on the scale, the worse the drought conditions in a given county.
Today, El Paso County’s KBDI is at 583, indicating that hot and dry conditions pose a threat of large, dangerous, and fast moving wildfires. The Forest Service in fact rates El Paso County as having “extreme” fire risk today. Additionally, the National Weather Service reports that hot, dry and breezy conditions have created “red flag” fire weather forsouthern New Mexico and Far West Texas. Wildfires have the potential of endangering lives and damaging property on a large scale.
To mitigate the risk of wildfires caused by fireworks, Judge Samaniego will issue a disaster declaration that will ban both the sale and use of all fireworks. The ban will run from Friday July 3 at 12 p.m. and will expire Sunday July 5 at 11:59 p.m.
This disaster declaration will be issued today.
Second amendment to Order No. 9, conforming County local order with Governor’s executive order:
Judge Samaniego also issued today a Second Amendment to Order No. 9, which incorporates the Governor’s order that was issued Friday. In addition to requiring that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments, order No. 9 provides:
•All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages must remain closed. These businesses may remain open only for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
•Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50 percent of their total listed indoor occupancy, beginning today.
Click Here or visit stayhomeworksafe.epcounty.com to view these orders.