Appeals court again halts El Paso County’s shutdown of nonessential businesses

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People wait outside an El Paso restaurant to pick up their food orders after the county judge ordered a shutdown of nonessential businesses. A state appeals court has halted the shutdown. Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

EL PASO — A state appeals court late Friday again halted El Paso County’s shutdown of nonessential businesses that was scheduled to last until Dec. 1.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued the shutdown order Oct. 29 in an effort to slow the latest outbreak of COVID-19 here, where total cases since the pandemic began surpassed 70,000 Friday.

A group of local restaurants and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued to block the order after it was issued, arguing that it went beyond Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that outlines what limits can be placed on private businesses across the state.