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Gov. Abbott tells restaurants to defy virus orders in El Paso & Austin banning late night dine-in services

Abbott Vaccine
Sergio Flores/The Texas Tribune
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a recent press conference regarding Covid-19.

EL PASO, Texas -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed restaurants to ignore local curfews — specifically in El Paso and Travis counties — that were implemented to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus on New Year's Eve.

The governor's action brought a swift rebuke from El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego who, in an interview with ABC-7, called Abbott's effort to subvert local orders "random," "very irresponsible" and "nonsensical."

"To Texas restaurants. A formal statement. 'The Governor’s statewide executive order allows food establishments to be open for in-person dining on New Years Eve as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. They should remain open. Happy New Year!' Cheers!" Abbott wrote on Twitter at 7:39 p.m., just within a few hours before the El Paso-area and Austin-area restaurant restrictions were set to go into effect for the night.

However, an El Paso police supervisor told ABC-7 that officers still planned to enforce the local restrictions unless otherwise directed by Mayor Dee Margo, who couldn't be reached for comment.

Meantime, Samaniego told ABC-7 that he was expecting to be served Thursday night with a lawsuit from the state, even though Samaniego said he instituted the El Paso restrictions after what he described as a “favorable” discussion with Abbott’s office and a representative from the Texas Attorney General’s office.

El Paso first instituted restrictions on dine-in hours back in mid-October with Margo announcing the governor's support during a news conference.

“We’ve been in constant contact with the governor, and he knows exactly what we have implemented. We’re fine,” Margo said at the time.

That same day, Abbott himself was asked about El Paso's restrictions and offered his support.

"Local officials do have levels of flexibility to make sure they are able to contain the spread of Covid-19, and it appears that is exactly what Mayor Margo is doing," Abbott said on Oct. 15.

The state of Texas to date had not publicly objected to the El Paso order limiting restaurant hours, which has now been in effect for weeks - although the mandated closing time was recently extended from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Word of Thursday night's potential legal action against El Paso came a short time after a Travis County District judge upheld Austin’s restrictions limiting when restaurants and bars could serve customers during New Year's weekend, after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Austin and Travis County to stop the measure in a suit similar to the one expected to be brought against El Paso County.

"The Court finds the State has not demonstrated a probable right to the relief sought nor imminent and irreparable harm," said Amy Clark Meachum, presiding judge of the 201st District Court.

Paxton's office was quick to appeal that ruling to the Austin-based Third Court of Appeals, which had taken no action late Thursday night.

Travis County is restricting dine-in food and beverage service from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., while El Paso's runs from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Both measures do allow restaurants to offer drive-thru, curbside pick-up, take out, or delivery services after dine-in closing time.

Restaurants are currently allowed to operate with occupancy limitations indoors throughout Texas, and more than 2,500 bars and nightclubs have reopened by converting to restaurants, offering food and committing that alcohol sales are less than half of their revenue.

The team of lawyers representing the state argued in the Austin court that the local orders contradict the state's emergency orders issued by Abbott, which established the rules for operation of businesses and occupancy restrictions.

But attorneys for the city of Austin and Travis County argued that their order is within the limits established by Abbott because it does not stop businesses from operating — it only restricts the way they provide service.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans to avoid crowds and indoor spaces and recommended that people stay at home for New Year's Eve or celebrate virtually.

Samaniego said he hoped El Pasoans would heed the CDC's advice and ignore the governor's tweet telling them to congregate and drink.

"I don't want to go down that road again," Samaniego told ABC-7 on New Year's Eve. "I don't want to be walking alongside trailers (with bodies)," he said, referencing the 1,467 El Pasoans confirmed to have died from Covid-19 in 2020 and the 543 other deaths from the year that are currently under investigation as suspected virus fatalities.

Biz/Tech / Coronavirus / El Paso / Health / News / Texas Politics / Top Stories

KVIA ABC-7

Associated Press

Texas Tribune

Comments

71 Comments

      1. Eff yo momma original caca. I don’t take advice from a handicap. Read between the lines trump moron. Lol. Y’all known as the American dumbasses. Dumbass!

  1. ABBOTT is a Trump kiss-ass. Nobody in El Paso is listening to his Crip ass. His declarations have a ZERO audience now that his boss Trump the Skunk is history. Don’t listen to politicians and look after your own ass. Stay HOME and live to tell about it after the holidays are over.

    1. Interesting that the Mayor’s office couldn’t be reached. I wonder what Reichfuhrer Samaniego did for New Year’s eve? I see that King Cuomo relaxed his own rules in upstate NY, so he can go to the Buffalo Bills game. Of course. Get used to the “rules for you, not for me” routine. It goes with socialism, where the elite live as they please, while the rest of us are restricted economically, politically, and socially. alberta is an uneducated moron.

      1. Oh, and Werner Wilhelm II (Bill DeBlasio), banned anyone from celebrating in Tomes Square, then him and his wife did just that, typical democrat dictators!

  2. We have the local 5-6 trump penis suckers. They will fight for it. Lol. Be a nice show to see. And the winner is……..Jeff Allen, Chief Allen, madmike, original maga, K1DPR, etc. go at it girls!!!

      1. Open your EYES, dumb ass. She is South Asian, BLACK and American Indian. She truly represents American Multiculturalism, not like you who represent IGNORANCE and Racial Intolerance..

    1. 99% survival rate with confirmed treatments. All business’s and schools should open immediately. If you’re scared stay home. Healthy people should not be forced to wear masks or stay home. Asymptomatic people aren’t contagious and are more than likely false positives. Follow the latest research or shut the hell up. You’re such an idiot.

      1. Sure thing, dude. Use the Trump playbook to belittle the Pandemic. It is all a harmless bug no worse than the Flu. It is all a Democrat Hoax. It will magically disappear(poof). We are rounding the corner! Meanwhile close to 400k people have died with thousands more to die until the Pandemic is brought under control. Sure thing, dude!

        1. Never said any of that. But read the research and look at the science. Yes people have died from the China Virus butits been proven that the numbers are grossly inflated. Look it up. Not on CNN.com but independent sources.

          1. You mean the the Trump virus. They haven’t had a new case of covid in Wuhan in over 3 weeks.

    1. DOWN with Covid19 deniers like the Hot Wheels handicapped Governor Abbott. Sure, he can tell everybody to ignore the Pandemic because he’s already got the Vaccine. SOB is talking out of the side of his mouth to please the Trump Lunatic Fringe. Probably thinking of his political capital down the road with the pussygrabber’s followers.

    1. “Hot Wheels Abbott” has no say on what precautions El Pasoans take to avoid dying from Covid19. He can Huff and Puff and threaten to blow Samaniego’s house down and let irresponsible Imbeciles spread Covid19 all they want. But the King of Hot Wheels will have his little Hoveround Power Chair run out of gas before he can make it to El Paso and force his Trump Rules on us.

  3. Interesting that the Mayor’s office couldn’t be reached. I wonder what Reichfuhrer Samaniego did for New Year’s eve? I see that King Cuomo relaxed his own rules in upstate NY, so he can go to the Buffalo Bills game. Of course. Get used to the “rules for you, not for me” routine. It goes with socialism, where the elite live as they please, while the rest of us are restricted economically, politically, and socially.

    1. Madmike we’ve been a socialist country for a while now. Wake up and smell the coffee boo. Look at how many big compaines we’ve bailed out including our banking system. You are stuck in a past where you were lied to and are desperately trying to hold onto to something that was never real. Your therapist is not doing a very good job by the way. Jusy sayin!

      1. Interesting that the Mayor’s office couldn’t be reached. I wonder what Reichfuhrer Samaniego did for New Year’s eve? I see that King Cuomo relaxed his own rules in upstate NY, so he can go to the Buffalo Bills game. Of course. Get used to the “rules for you, not for me” routine. It goes with socialism, where the elite live as they please, while the rest of us are restricted economically, politically, and socially.

  4. Abbutt is an idiot who doesn’t care about our Democratic city. What a douche along with this KKKVIA trolls. Shame on you and your supporters. VIVA EL PASO!!!

  5. Wow the hateful KKKVIA republican trolls can’t take any criticism. You sad people need to get a life and not give your opinion on EVERTHING! #getalife

  6. Good for Samaniego and Margo. By ignoring Abbott and continuing to try to curtail the spread of the virus, they are demonstrating leadership lacking in the Governor’s office. Abbott has relinquished his authority with his irresponsible actions. No one is going to pay any attention to him or any lawsuits filed by incest baby and criminal Paxton.

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