EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso city and county officials announced two new coronavirus deaths and 28 more cases on Tuesday evening while reluctantly lifting the "stay home, work safe" order as of Friday to comply with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's directives to start reopening the state.
While the city/county stay-at-home order will be lifted, local officials still strongly encouraged people to stay home except for essential activities and practice social distancing and utilize face coverings if they must go out.
The latest virus deaths reported Tuesday evening, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 70s, brought the fatality count in El Paso to 14. The number of confirmed cases rose to 857.
Abbott, in his executive order issued Monday, will allow businesses like retail stores, malls, restaurants and theaters to reopen this Friday with occupancy limited to 25%.
While museums and libraries could also open under the governor's directive, the city has decided not to reopen those at this time.
Churches may also reopen per the governor, but Bishop Mark Seitz has told officials that El Paso's Catholic churches will remain closed for now.
With Abbott's order superseding local orders, face coverings will no longer be mandatory for everyone as of Friday, but they do remain highly recommended. That said, workers at essential businesses - such as restaurants - will be required to wear face masks as a condition of reopening.
Here's the new El Paso city/county amended directive issued Tuesday evening...
Stay Home, Work Safe Order Lifted May 1
- · Consistent with state and national recommendations, El Pasoans are strongly urged to stay at home if they can, and continue to exercise social distancing, proper hygiene and use face coverings.
o Social gatherings continue to be strongly discouraged.
o People over the age of 65 or considered part of a vulnerable population are strongly encouraged to continue to remain at home and limit contact as much as possible with persons from outside their immediate household.
- · Businesses
o Essential businesses which have been operating will be allowed to continue to operate with the safety protocols already in place.
o Retail-to-Go businesses which have been operating will be allowed to continue to operate with the safety protocols already in place.
o Additional businesses, including restaurants, retail stores, malls and movie theaters, will be allowed to open with certain restrictions:
§ Operate at 25% total listed occupancy only.
§ Operate with the same safety protocols in place for essential businesses and Retail-to-Go businesses.
§ Face coverings are required for all employees while working at essential businesses, Retail-to-Go operations or the newly reopened businesses allowed to operate at 25% capacity.
- · Golf courses and private tennis courts will be open and fishing will be allowed with safety protocols in place.
o Tennis courts at private facilities may be utilized following the Local Health Authority’s Order or guidance.
- · City of El Paso parks will remain closed except for walking on designated walking paths.
o Public park playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts will remain closed.
o Playgrounds will remain closed.
- · City of El Paso museums and libraries will remain closed.