SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an executive order requiring air travelers to New Mexico to self-isolate for at least 14 days to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Air travelers who fail to voluntarily self-isolate will be subject to forced isolation or quarantine by the New Mexico Health Department, Lujan Grisham says in the order.
The majority of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico have resulted from interstate and international travel into the state.
“Because some individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms, travelers may be unaware they are carrying the virus,” Lujan Grisham says in the order. “For this reason, persons arriving in New Mexico’s airports must self-isolate for a period of time sufficient to ensure that the public health and safety is not jeopardized.”
The self-isolation order for air travelers follows other steps by the Lujan Grisham administration to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the closing of non-essential businesses, a ban on gatherings of more than 5 people and stay-at-home instructions for New Mexicans.
“Despite the best efforts of our state and local governments and the citizens of New Mexico, COVID-19 has continued to spread and ongoing efforts are still necessary to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19,” the governor says in the air travel order.
Other U.S. states and some countries also have implemented isolation orders for air travelers. President Donald Trump has restricted travel to the United States from Europe and China.
Lujan Grisham on March 11 declared a statewide public health emergency due to COVID-19 and invoked gubernatorial powers under the All Hazard Emergency Management Act to protect public health, safety and welfare.
Under the governor’s order, air travelers to New Mexico are required to self-isolate for at least 14 days or for the duration of their stay in the state, whichever is shorter.
People who are self-isolating may leave their place of lodging only to receive medical care, according to the order. Family or household members may visit an isolated person, but those visitors would then need to self-isolate for at least two weeks.
Lujan Grisham directed the Department of Health to take all steps needed to ensure the screening and isolation of air travelers to the state, including executing temporary holds of individuals or groups, obtaining court orders to require isolation and imposing civil and/or criminal penalties.
The governor’s executive order doesn’t apply to airline employees and those performing public safety or public health functions, such as military personnel, federal employees, employees of national defense contractors, emergency first responders, health care workers or employees of shipping and freight companies.