The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

NM retailers can open with limited capacity; masks required


Last updated 5/13/2020 at 7:46pm

SANTA FE — Most New Mexico retailers are back in business, beginning Saturday. And everyone is required to wear face coverings in public, with exceptions for eating, drinking and exercising.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made the announcements on Wednesday in modifying New Mexico’s emergency public health order. The order was set to expire Friday, and will now be extended through May 31 with multiple modifications.

The major changes were the masks — previously required only for workers — and allowing most retailers to open at 25 percent capacity.

Restaurants are still limited to curbside or takeout only, and salons, malls, gyms, theaters and casinos must remain closed until at least June 1.

Houses of worship may reopen this weekend, but only at 10 percent capacity, as determined by fire codes.

The changes are part of New Mexico’s phased plan for a safe and gradual reopening based on “gating criteria” that show a generally decreasing transmission rate, adequate testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, and adequate supply of personal protective equipment, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“We’re going to demand the science guide every decision we make, and we believe, based on gating criteria, we can have slight reopenings,” Lujan Grisham said in the release. “But it’s not an invitation to go out and about and ignore our public health requirements. The virus decides when and how much we reopen, and our behavior will determine how well we control its spread.”

New Mexico had 5,364 reported positive cases and 231 reported fatalities associated with the virus, as of Wednesday, the state’s Department of Health reported. Two hundred New Mexicans were hospitalized on Wednesday, and 1,515 COVID-19 victims were classified as recovered.

Numbers remain low in eastern New Mexico, with just 47 cases in Curry and Roosevelt counties combined, and no deaths.

“I think we can begin to reopen, but it is a tightrope walk,” said Dr. David Scrase, secretary of the Human Services Department.

“At the end of the day, it’s all driven by what we do as New Mexicans. If we stay home, wash hands, cough into our elbows and wear face masks, we’ll continue to meet our gating criteria goals and continue to reopen the economy.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether fines or threats of jail would be used to enforce the facemask requirement. The governor said more details will follow in the next few days.

Also from the governor’s news release:


• New Mexicans must remain home except for outings essential for health, safety and welfare, especially elderly and vulnerable individuals. If you must leave home, gatherings of more than five people remain prohibited and 6 feet of physical distance from others must be maintained.

• Large retailers like big-box stores and grocery stores will continue operating at 20 percent capacity as determined by fire code.

• Locations and services where high-intensity contact is unavoidable – such as gyms, salons and dine-in service at restaurants and bars – will remain temporarily closed. Limited in-person operations for those types of businesses could be included in the next modification of the public health order, as soon as early June, depending on New Mexico’s rate of COVID-19 transmission, testing capacity and other gating criteria.

• Other high-intensity contact services that must remain closed include indoor malls, massage and tattoo parlors, theaters, casinos.

• 14-day quarantine order remains in place for out-of-state airport arrivals.

• Vacation rentals prohibited to out-of-state residents.

• Visits to long-term care and other congregate care facilities remain restricted.


• All retailers may operate according to COVID-Safe Practices (“CSPs”) at 25 percent fire code occupancy (a “retailer” is any business that sells goods directly to the ultimate consumer or end-users and does not include wholesalers or suppliers, not does it include entertainment venues such as movie theaters, concert halls, or amusement parks);

• Non-essential businesses (other than retailers; such as office spaces, call centers) generally may operate according to CSPs at up to 25 percent of pre-crisis staffing levels. All employees should continue to work from home wherever possible;

• Houses of worship may operate at 10 percent occupancy;

• Additional state parks and certain outdoor recreation guides with COVID-Safe Practices;

• Masks will be required of everyone in public places, with exceptions for eating, drinking and exercising and medical requirements.

Summer youth programs will be allowed with modifications, limits and additional requirements, including daily temperature checks and enhanced cleaning. In-person summer programs and sports camps will be restricted to 5:1 child to adult ratios and activities must maintain 6-foot distancing between participants.

The three counties – McKinley, San Juan and Cibola – in the state’s northwestern public health region that remains a COVID-19 hotspot are exempt from the new order but will be allowed to move into the preparation phase that began two weeks ago for the rest of the state. That means that in those counties, non-essential retailers may provide curbside pickup or delivery; golf courses, pet and veterinary services may open; and gun stores may operate by appointment. However, the order to stay home except for essential outings remains in place.


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