Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday announced the state of New Mexico will re-enact emergency public health restrictions on high-contact indoor environments where face-coverings are not worn in order to slow the rising spread of COVID-19 across the state.
A new emergency public health order declaring the state’s renewed public health protections will be effective Monday, July 13.
New Mexico’s statewide cases of COVID-19 and rolling average of cases have risen and continue to rise. In the past two weeks, the state has seen 3,068 new positive cases of COVID-19, representing 21.5% of the total positive cases statewide over the course of the pandemic. These trends are similar to frightening upticks creating health care and hospital resource shortages in neighboring states and across the country.
The new public health order will prohibit indoor dining at restaurants, which had been permitted at a limited capacity in the state since June 1. Also restricted will be indoor seating at breweries, which had been permitted at a limited capacity since June 15.
Both restaurants and breweries may operate outdoor seating at 50 percent of the maximum occupancy as determined by fire code. Restaurants may continue to operate carry out, pickup and delivery services. Breweries may continue to operate curbside pickup services.
The public health order will also be amended to restrict out-of-state visitors at New Mexico state parks. Visitors to state parks must demonstrate proof of residency or will not be permitted entry. According to New Mexico State Parks, visitors must show one of the following to demonstrate residency: a valid New Mexico license plate, New Mexico driver’s license or ID card, New Mexico vehicle registration, federal document attesting to residency, or military identification. In order to ensure compliance with the new public health order, State Parks will further modify days and hours of operation for a handful of parks due to continued visitation from out of state residents and the additional staff time needed to enforce the public health order. Visitors can check the list of state parks currently operating here.
The state’s mandate that all individuals must wear face-coverings in public – in effect since May 16 – will be strengthened to additionally require individuals to wear face-coverings while exercising. This requirement includes those exercising at indoor gyms and fitness centers. Operators of those establishments, like operators of other essential businesses, must require customers to wear face-coverings; violators will be subject to a fine.
“We knew when we began our methodical reopening process that we would be introducing risk, and to counter that risk we would all have to amend our behavior and take every individual precaution to begin to live in a COVID-positive world and sustain that process,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Unfortunately, our state’s dramatically rising case numbers reflect that those behavior modifications and precautions have either not been taken seriously or taken up by enough people. The virus has been unleashed: Too many of us are still not wearing masks. Too many of us are still congregating in groups, taking risks with our own lives and endangering the health of our family members, our neighbors and our state. This virus does not discriminate. But we know prolonged exposure without face-coverings – as is the case in high-contact indoor settings – is a significant risk factor. And if we are to safely reopen our schools this fall, if we are to prevent further illness and hospitalization and death in our state, we must eliminate as much of the risk as we can. We flattened the curve in this state once. We’ll do it again.
“I know this news is a tough pill to swallow for many New Mexicans,” the governor added. “This public health crisis has been an overwhelming challenge for all of us – not least business-owners and workers whose lives and livelihoods have been upended as this virus spreads. But as I’ve said many times throughout this pandemic: We will not wait, as a state, for the worst to occur to make the hard decisions. We will not wait for rising cases to turn into rising hospitalizations and deaths as in our neighboring states.
“I am grateful to every New Mexican who is doing everything possible to slow this virus down. What we’re learning from the increase of COVID-19 cases across the state is that it’s going to take all of us together to put this virus in its place and allow us to really be able to move on with our lives. The best way to take care of our families and our economy is to take care of each other. Please wear facemasks. Please don’t gather in large groups without them. Please keep physical distance from others, and practice those healthy habits we were raised on. Emergency public health orders aren’t about controlling lives; they’re about saving lives. Getting this virus under control means being able to reopen our businesses, getting our kids back in schools and reuniting families with their loved ones in nursing homes. We have proven we can flatten the curve once; the only way we’ll flatten it again and get back to the lives we want to lead is pulling together.”
“COVID-19 cases in New Mexico are climbing at an alarming rate. We’re seeing an increase in younger people under 30 years of age that are testing positive for the virus – it has almost tripled in rate. Young people are not invincible – the first known COVID-19 related lung transplant was performed on a patient in Chicago in her 20s,” said Human Services Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D. “Her lungs became so damaged she could not survive without support from machines and received a double-lung transplant on June 5. We know that human to human contact is spreading the coronavirus therefore if you want to see our economy recover, save 33,000 lives, and protect yourself: remain vigilant. Stay at home, wash your hands, clean surfaces, cough into a tissue, everyone needs to wear a face mask in public, and maintain social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet.”
“There has been significant community spread in our state since New Mexico opened more businesses,” said Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel, “and that spread has not been sufficiently mitigated with COVID-safe behaviors like face-coverings. Without those behaviors and strategies being uniformly adopted, the best way to reduce transmission is to reduce the opportunity for spread. We will all help each other through this.”