EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Just 32 citations have been issued in El Paso for face covering violations since the pandemic began, according to city data that tracked such citations between mid-March and Oct. 4.
Fourteen of those citations were issued to individuals and 18 of them were issued to workplaces.
All but two of those citations were issued in September and October. Two were issued earlier in April.
A face covering requirement took effect in El Paso in June. City officials mandated that businesses require customers and employees to wear them. The order came immediately after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made the decision to allow local governments the authority to enforce face coverings.
A lieutenant with the El Paso Fire Marshal's Office said that prior to the governor's order, it was difficult to enforce face coverings in the region. He adds that early on, there were other enforcement focuses for the emergency order.
"When the pandemic first started to come on, a lot of our complaints were geared toward social gatherings and places of residence," said Lt. Robert Jones. "Around the weekends of Easter and Mother's Day. We did have a lot of complaints. That was our primary focus was to go visit these residential locations. We did a lot of citations there."
More than 90 citations were issued for maximum gathering size violations during that same time period.
As it stands in the emergency order, face coverings are required for everyone in El Paso inside a public space, as well as outdoors when social distancing is not possible. There are some exceptions. Jones said citations for activities that violate the order can carry fines of up to $500.
Jones said the task force responsible for enforcement prefers to issue warnings for first-time offenders in the hopes violators won't break the rules again.
"A lot of stuff is changing so we do try to work with community, try to give them a chance to correct any deficiencies that might be going on," he said. "A lot of times, this may be due to a misunderstanding or due the fact that is that it is a recent change or adjustment to which they have not had time to prepare."
You can view the citations that have been issued here by clicking on the updated Covid-19 Enforcement Report.