Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima has asked Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Department of Health officials to consider two options that could possibly enable indoor dining to be reinstated in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County restaurants.
Mayor Miyagishima has said restaurants in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County have especially been hit hard by the restrictions of a New Mexico Public Health Order that has been in effect for almost a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 positivity test rates of COVID-19 have fluctuated, City and county restaurants have had to cease indoor dining operations several times, with the most recent change occurring last week after Doña Ana County’s positivity test rate changed from the Yellow Level – high risk – to Red Level, very high risk.
The colored levels are now being used as part of the New Mexico Red to Green Framework. Doña Ana County is one of only four counties, among New Mexico’s 33 counties, that is currently at the Red Level, which has the most restrictions imposed for businesses to operate.
Red level restrictions currently in effect for food and drink establishments prohibit indoor dining; outdoor dining is restricted to a maximum capacity of 25 percent; and any establishment serving alcohol must close by 9 p.m. each night.
The options proposed by Mayor Miyagishima are:
Plan A: On March 10, if Las Cruces and Doña Ana County are still in the Red Level, Mayor Miyagishima would ask for an exemption to allow restaurants to operate at the Yellow Level – which allows a 25-percent seating capacity for indoor dining – as long as Las Cruces and Doña Ana County can show a seven-day average of 100 daily cases, or less, of COVID-19 reported in the county.
Plan B: On March 10, if the City and County have a COVID-19 positivity test rate of more than 5 percent then residents who prove they have been vaccinated (first and/or second dose) would be allowed entrance to indoor dining, where seating capacity would not exceed 25 percent.
Compounding the difficulties with the restrictions in effect for Las Cruces and Doña Ana County restaurants is that Texas will restore dining capacities for its restaurants to 100 percent beginning March 9. Mayor Miyagishima believes that would place future economic hardships and difficulties to compete for City and county restaurants.