SANTA FE – New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel on Sunday announced she would strengthen the public health emergency order she issued Thursday, March 12, amending the restrictions on social gatherings to limit the incidence of COVID-19 in New Mexico.
Beginning 9 a.m., Monday, March 16, the amended public health order directs that all restaurants, bars, breweries, eateries and other food establishments shall operate at no greater than 50 percent of maximum occupancy and no greater than 50 percent of seating capacity. In addition, tables and booths may not seat more than six people, and all occupied tables and booths must be separated by at least six feet. Patrons may not be seated at bars, and standing patrons will not be served.
The public health order prohibits gatherings of 100 or more but includes specific exemptions for shelters, retail or grocery stores, courthouses, correction and detention facilities and hospitals, among others.
The order defines mass gatherings as events that bring together 100 or more people in a single room or connected space like auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference centers and theaters.
The amended order also clarifies that all casinos and horse racing facilities must close until April 10. This provision does not apply to casinos operating on tribal lands.
Additional advisories and orders will follow as conditions warrant.
“The best thing New Mexicans can do right now is self-isolate and limit person-to-person contact,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We all have to pull together in this effort. Keep washing your hands with soap and water regularly. Stay at home. Remember your neighbors and buy only what you need when you are shopping.”
New Mexico health officials strongly advise residents to stay home to the greatest extent possible in order to limit person-to-person contact, and to undertake only those outings that are essential to health, safety and general welfare.
Social isolation is the most important strategy for containing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
New Mexicans who detect symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453).
People without those symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19. This is allergy season, and allergy symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes, nose or throat do not indicate a need for testing. While the state is gratified that COVID-19 testing is increasingly available, we need to prioritize testing for persons with symptoms of COVID-19 infection – fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
New Mexicans who have non-health-related questions or concerns can also call 833-551-0518 or visit newmexico.gov, which is being updated and finalized as a one-stop source for information.
The state Department of Health is updating its dedicated COVID-19 webpage, viewable here: cv.nmhealth.org. The website reflects the total number of positive COVID-19 tests in New Mexico – 17 as of Sunday afternoon.