Mask mandate will be enforced with 'extreme positive peer pressure'
Last updated 5/14/2020 at 2:19pm
SANTA FE — For weeks, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has declined to require that the people of New Mexico wear face masks in public.
She repeatedly has said such an imposition would be impractical and has strongly encouraged state residents to voluntarily cover their faces.
But on Wednesday, the governor changed course. Beginning Saturday, everyone must wear a mask in public, she said.
The punishment for breaking this section of the new health code? A stern word and a punishing glance.
“It’s not optional,” Lujan Grisham said Wednesday.
State police and first responders will enforce the new requirement, which will appear in the next emergency public health order effective this weekend, with “extreme positive peer pressure,” Lujan Grisham said.
More punitive enforcement — such as a citation and a fine — would be impractical and strain already overworked first responders, the governor said, imploring listeners of her weekly address to understand that the lack of enforcement is “not an invitation to not wear a mask.”
The governor also urged New Mexicans to refrain from “negative attacks” or anger at police officers who address mask issues.
If you’re mad, she said, express your anger to her — not public employees.
“I can take it,” Lujan Grisham said.
Nora Meyers Sackett, the governor's press secretary, said businesses are still required to have their employees wearing masks. "Employers who do not abide by the public health order could be cited," she said in an email.
The Albuquerque Journal and The Eastern New Mexico News contributed to this report.