Essential businesses further restricted to limit gatherings; New Mexicans must stay home to prevent further spread of virus

SANTA FE – With COVID-19 cases still rising in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday extended her public health emergency order and announced the extension of related public health orders to encourage social distancing and preserve safety equipment for health care workers. Per the order, all guidance and advisories issued by the governor and secretary of health are in effect through at least April 30. 

The amended public health order, which is attached to this news release, further restricts business operations as a means of combating continued congregating in spaces outside the home. The order is effective 8 a.m., April 7. The governor’s executive order authorizing the extension of the public health orders is also attached.

As in the original public health order, New Mexicans are instructed to stay at home except for emergency or essential outings, and non-essential businesses that had been ordered to close in-person operations must remain closed.

The amended order includes a new requirement that all retail operations that are considered essential businesses – including grocery stores – shall limit occupancy in their retail spaces. The maximum number of customers in the retail space must be equal to 20 percent or less of the maximum occupancy of the retail space, as determined by the relevant fire marshal or fire department. 

If and when customers are waiting outside of a retail space, they must do so in compliance with social distancing protocols including the requirement that they maintain a distance of at least six-feet from other individuals and avoid person-to-person contact.

Hotels, motels, RV parks, and other places of lodging shall not operate at more than 25 percent of maximum occupancy, per the amended order. This is reduced from 50 percent.

Additional entities that are deemed non-essential as part of the amended order and must cease in-person operations are automobile dealerships, payday lenders and liquor stores.

Businesses seeking clarity on essential or non-essential status may send inquiries to covid.exemption@state.nm.us.

ON ENFORCEMENT: Reports of non-compliance can be made to NMSP.COVID19@state.nm.us or to your local police or sheriff’s department’s non-emergency line. The state of New Mexico will explore and put into use all mechanisms for enforcement. There are civil and criminal penalties for violating a public health order.

“We must carry on undaunted in our fight against COVID-19,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “These measures will help us prevent a sudden spike in infections that would overwhelm our healthcare system. This virus is still spreading, and we must remain vigilant about physical distancing from one another. And we will ramp up enforcement of non-compliance.

“New Mexicans, I implore you to honor your social contract with your state. These orders are not friendly suggestions; heed them and protect yourselves, your families and your communities. If these directives are not heeded, further restrictions will be enacted. The difference between a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario for our state depends on your actions and the actions of those around you. It is an enormous sacrifice to adjust our daily lives in this way – but it is one we must undertake in order to limit illness and death in our state.

“To those New Mexicans who have already committed to physical distancing and are doing everything they can to restrict or limit their outings and physical contact with others: Thank you. You are holding up your social contract with your state and your neighbors, and we are grateful. Please know that your actions are our single best weapon against this virus.”

The extension also applies to a series of public health orders issued by Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel because their duration was linked to the executive order. Those orders include:

  • Limiting nursing home visitation (March 13);
  • Limiting mass gatherings (March 16);
  • Closing casinos, horse-racing facilities and restaurants and bars (except for pickup and delivery) and restricting hotel and motel operations (March 19)
  • Closing all non-essential businesses and nonprofits (March 23);
  • Prohibiting non-essential health care services to conserve personal protective equipment for COVID-19 workers (March 24);
  • Regulating the sale and distribution of personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 related shortages (March 24).

The extension of social distancing guidelines is designed to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases overall and to postpone a surge in cases for as long as possible. The longer the surge can be delayed, the smaller it will be and the more time the state will have to increase the number of hospital beds and medical supplies.

ON FACE COVERINGS: The Department of Health has recommended that New Mexicans wear cloth, non-medical masks when traveling outside the home for essential outings in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has advised “the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.” According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

A cloth, non-medical mask is not a replacement for physical distancing. An instructional video about how to make a non-medical face covering can be viewed here​.

###