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Mayor, senator encouraging talks between Albertsons, governor

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The state closing Albertsons Market in Hobbs on Wenesday set off a flurry of phone calls between local and state officials that at least has the state and Albertsons talking about a plan to move forward.

Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said on Friday afternoon he has been in touch with the governor’s office, speaking with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham directly three times in telephone calls this week — with those calls lasting 15-20 minute each. Cobb said in those conversations, the governor expressed concern about the store being closed.

“She is very concerned,” Cobb said. “She wants to get the business back open but at the same time ensure the safety procedures are in place.

“I talked to her about the importance about getting these stores open,” Cobb said.

In turn, Cobb said officials from grocery store’s corporate offices and state regulators have been meeting to find a solution to get the store back open. Cobb said those discussions are ongoing, including meetings on Friday.

Although Cobb could not share what potential plans include, he is hopeful the state and Albertsons could reach an agreement to begin the reopening process before Dec. 2, which is how long the store must currently stay closed.

The N.M. Environment Department shut the store’s doors late Wednesday due to positive COVID-19 tests, causing one of Hobbs’ busiest grocery stores to no longer be an option for food purchases. The Albertsons stores in Carlsbad and Roswell were also closed for the same period of until Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, Sen. Gay Kernan R-Hobbs,  met with the N.M. Secretary of Environment James Kinney this week, expressing concern about the closing of the grocery store.

Kernan told the secretary Lea County residents will end up going to Texas for their shopping needs if local options are closed. Traveling to Texas for shopping, she said, would then do the exact opposite of the intent of the closer — stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“So, what will happen is people in Hobbs are going to leave the state of New Mexico and drive over into Texas to shop. They’re either going to take the virus with them, or bring it back,” Kernan said at a legislative committee hearing on Thursday.

She also has raised the issue of the state’s closure criteria for large employers. As of now, state set the limit for any sized business at no more than four positive COVID-19 tests of employees in a 14-day period. The problem being, she said, is a store with hundreds of employees can easily hit that closure criteria of four positives, especially essential ones such as a grocery store.

For now, Albertsons’ pharmacy hours will be limited during the week and on the weekends. In order to pickup a a prescription, or have it delivered free of charge, an appointment must be made by calling 575-392-4503. The pharmacy is open for curbside pick up Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Guests should park in the streetside parking and call the number on the side for curbside delivery. They can also call the pharmacy and arrange for free delivery of prescriptions.

Curbside pickup and delivery for grocery items is closed until Dec. 2 or until an agreement is reached with the state.

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