SANTA FE, N.M. (AP and Staff) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is reimposing the toughest of the state’s public health restrictions for the next two weeks.
The Democratic governor on Friday said she’s hitting the reset button in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
That means all non-essential businesses and nonprofits must stop in-person activities and essential businesses need to reduce their operations to the greatest extend possible. People also are being told to stay home except for only essential trips related to health, safety and welfare.
The governor says the state is at a breaking point and that a two-week pause will afford New Mexico an opportunity to blunt the virus.
The restrictions are effective Monday, Nov. 16, through Monday, Nov. 30.
New Mexicans are instructed to stay at home except for only those trips that are essential to health, safety and welfare – such as for food and water, emergency medical care, to obtain a flu shot or to obtain a test for COVID-19.
Essential businesses – such as grocery stores, pharmacies, shelters, child care facilities, gas stations, infrastructure operations and others – must minimize operations and in-person staffing to the greatest extent possible but may remain open for limited essential in-person activities. A complete list of categories of businesses defined as essential is included in the public health order and at the bottom of this news release.
Food and drink establishments may provide curbside pickup and delivery services; on-site dining is prohibited.
A retail space identified as an essential business in the public health order – such as a grocery store, a hardware store, an automobile or bike repair facility, laundromats, liquor stores and large “big box” retailers — may not exceed either 25 percent of maximum occupancy or 75 customers at any one time, whichever is smaller. These essential retail spaces must close by 10 p.m. nightly and may reopen at 4 a.m.
The worsening state of emergency throughout New Mexico necessitates severe public health restrictions as the state records unsustainable rates of new infections of COVID-19 and hospitals throughout the state approach or exceed capacity for bed availability and staffing resources. New Mexico’s rolling 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases is 1,012, nearly 10 times greater than the state’s target for a safe “reopening” process. The total COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state have risen at least 214 percent over the most recent four weeks. The state has recorded 182 COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks, a record over the course of the pandemic, and a 143 percent increase over the prior two-week period.
Businesses face a civil administrative penalty of up to $5,000 a day for each violation of the Public Health Emergency Response Act, the state law authorizing the secretary of health to issue emergency public health orders.
Close-contact businesses – such as barbershops, hair salons, gyms, group fitness classes, tattoo parlors, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, esthetician clinics, tanning salons, guided raft tours, guided balloon tours, bowling alleys, ice skating rinks, and personal training services – must reduce their in-person workforce at each business or business location by 100% through Nov. 30 for the duration of the public health order.
Houses of worship may hold religious services, indoors or outdoors, or provide services through audiovisual means, but may not be used as a venue for non-religious events. “Houses of worship” may not exceed either 25 percent of the maximum occupancy of any enclosed building or 75 individuals at any one time, whichever is smaller. Houses of worship should err on the side of remote or audiovisual services during the current public health emergency, according to the governor.
Any gathering of more than five individuals is prohibited; this includes amateur youth sports. New Mexicans are instructed to remain at home except for only those trips that are essential for health, safety and welfare.
A mass gathering does not include the presence of more than five individuals where those individuals regularly reside. A mass gathering also does not include individuals who are public officials or public employees in the course and scope of their employment.