EL PASO, Texas -- Both Mount Cristo Rey and the Chamizal National Memorial are now closed to visitors until further notice, officials announced Wednesday, "in an effort to keep the community safe" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Park Service said its decision to immediately close the Chamizal was in the interests of "the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners" in the El Paso community.
In Sunland Park, officials said the Mount Cristo Rey closure decision was made in consultation with the New Mexico Governor's Office and the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.
"We need the public to know Mount Cristo Rey is closed and all Holy Week events are cancelled," said Ruben Escandon, Jr. of the Mt. Cristo Rey Restoration Committee. He added that no hiking would be allowed either.
"It's unfortunate that we're going through this pandemic at this time and have to face that, but that's something that there's nothing that we can do about it," Escandon said.
Meantime, officials were also reminding Borderland residents that gathering or picnicking at El Paso city parks and Texas state parks during Easter weekend is also not allowed.
El Paso's joint city-county orders remain in place that have closed parks, hike and bike trails, playgrounds, basketball courts, dog parks and skate parks.
"Easter weekend is one of the busiest days of the year for parks, but to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect families, residents are not allowed to gather at parks," said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. "In addition, at-home gatherings, parties and other group activities that encourage some form of gathering are not permitted."
Margo said while he knows Easter weekend is traditionally a time for family gatherings to celebrate, he emphasized it was critically important this year to stay home and maintain social distancing as virus cases in El Paso continue to grow.