KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Amid record surge in COVID-19 cases, social gatherings, special events continued

Oct 26, 2020

A quinceañera and her guests dance at popular far west El Paso County venue, Grace Gardens. The city and county called for people to stay home but social gatherings continued.
Credit Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

EL PASO -- The governor of Texas is helping El Paso set up a field hospital at the convention center and the county judge has imposed a nightly curfew from 10pm to 5am to keep more people at home and stop rampant community spread.

But the night before the curfew took effect as officials urged El Paso residents to stay home amid a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases and hosptializations, social gatherings continued.

A popular venue for events in far west El Paso county was the site of both a wedding reception and quinceñera.  KTEP's Angela Kocherga went to the scene to report on the gatherings as El Paso County Sheriff's Deputies arrived.  Though they would not talk about why they were at Grace Gardens that evening, a Sheriff's spokeswoman later said  the business was operating at half capacity as allowed under emergency orders. " That was why it was not shut down. Because the order does read an outdoor business can operate at 50 percent which was the case this Saturday."

The manager at the Grace Gardens that evening said the business had permission to hold the special events. "We're in compliance," said Sandra Rodriguez, a manager at Grace Gardens.  The popular venue has a capacity for about 500 guests and has indoor and outdoor areas. 

Additionally, city and county officials have granted waivers for some gatherings during the pandemic, including weddings. But both the mayor and county judge said those waivers were rescinded as El Paso copes with uncontrolled spread of the virus and hospitals reach capacity. On Sunday evening as he imposed the curfew, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said any peace officer could enforce the emergency orders.