EL PASO, Texas - A top city official said some El Paso businesses refuse to cooperate with city compliance officers and other businesses are afraid to confront customers who aren't wearing masks.
Environmental Services Director Ellen Smyth addressed the El Paso City Council on Tuesday and discussed some of the issues that have made enforcing social distancing and other pandemic-related regulations difficult.
City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said that the city can't afford to see these types of behavior continue if it is to get the upper hand on the coronavirus.
"We need to be more aggressive in issuing citations," Gonzalez said.
Making enforcement even trickier: Only a police officer can actually issue a citation while code offers can only issue correction notices.
If cited, a businesses must either comply or go to municipal court. Compliance officers are encouraged to try and get a signature from the business being cited at the bottom of the correction notice.
However, some people have reportedly refused to sign.
"So businesses will now be cited if they have already received a warning," Gonzalez said. "Health inspectors are canvassing businesses and then using check lists to ensure uniformity so the database is being kept up to date."
Smyth said bars have been trying to skirt the rules by applying for food permits but then stop serving food after 10 p.m.
She called it "gaming the system."