Order frustrates locals
Last updated 11/14/2020 at 5pm
Anger, frustration, resignation.
Those are just a few of the emotions eastern New Mexico residents felt over the weekend, with the state once again on the cusp of a shelter in place order during the COVID-19 pandemic.
No one seemed surprised.
"I knew we were going to get locked down," Margarita Walton said Saturday morning from her IronCurves Fitness Club, a three-year-old facility that a community of about 40 call their workout home. Walton said the new orders were inevitable when she saw social media posts of private events and Halloween celebrations with none of the COVID-19 safeguards like mask wearing or social distancing.
A couple of IronCurve's customers, known in the club as pandas, have contracted COVID-19 through community spread. However, no cases have traced back to the gym in the Hilltop Center that previously housed the kitchen and loading area for Furr's cafeteria. Seeing the gym shut down for in-person classes is frustrating, Walton said, because she sees dozens of people going into big box stores and she's not allowed to do a one-on-one training session in a facility she keeps locked.
"You can't just walk in," Walton said. "Everyone is on a list. One comes in, one goes out."
Most of the members are enshrined numerous times to signify a perfect month of attendance, and a dry erase board near the door shows most are on pace for a perfect November.
Should she contract COVID-19, Walton said she isn't overly concerned because she's in above-average physical condition. Her concern lies with others who might not handle the virus as well.
As a native of Israel - she arrived stateside as a military wife, and kept the business going after the marriage ended - she said her family back home is flummoxed when told many Americans don't want to follow public health orders. She contends had Americans followed protocols, the pandemic would be over or much less severe.
"I understand you don't like to wear a mask at public places, but it's not about you," she said. "I wouldn't be able to sleep if I got someone else sick from my gym."
In downtown Clovis, Sheila Romero was planning to celebrate the third anniversary of Lina and Ally's Tea Shoppe on Main Street on Thursday, but they'll be closed instead.
"I think we'll survive this," Romero said, noting she anticipated such moves were coming from the state as cases kept rising.
The shop prepares loose leaf tea in house and goes to other stores for pastries - Dunkin Donuts tend to be the popular sides. Customers can sit down in the dining area, or rent a booth and have a private tea party if they wish.
That gets put on hold Monday for the shop, which also has seven independent vendors using the front area to sell various goods. Out front, vendor Gina Gonser was setting up her independent Scentsy merchandise and was upbeat despite clear frustration.
"I'm old," Gonser said, "and I keep getting grounded."
Romero said the shop does have clearance to operate with to-go and delivery drinks, but she's declining to do that because it's not the same experience and she's short-staffed by a COVID-19 quarantine at the moment.
The weekend saw a rush of customers to grocery and big box stores, as shoppers snapped up staple food items, water and toilet paper. Grocery stores and retailers will be allowed to stay open if they're determined to provide essential services like hardware supplies and groceries, but they are limited to the smaller of 75 customers or 25% capacity.
Kyle Brewer, who owns S&S Supermarket and its neighboring Hilltop Bottle Shop liquor store, said he isn't concerned about running into occupancy limits at the grocery store and that he has documentation from the state that the Bottle Shop can remain open. Still, he isn't happy with what the shelter in place orders mean for communities.
"She (Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) is going to put all of these restaurants and everybody out of business," Brewer said, "and I think that's her goal, for a virus that 99.9% of people recover from. We need to protect the vulnerable and then move on with life."
Erin Eshleman, who owns the Klassy Kactus Salon, said the holiday season is the worst time to take opportunities away from her and the eight other girls in her business already struggling to put food on the table.
"I'm not speaking just for me but I'm speaking for a lot of other salon owners," Eshleman said, "and not just salon owners but restaurants, who during this season they count on those extra tips and that extra money to supply things that they need for their family. Not just food, but presents for their children. So it makes me very sad.
"It doesn't make sense that big box stores can remain open when the heart and soul of our community is small businesses, especially in Curry County, and all we're doing is suppressing that and making it harder and harder for small businesses to stay open."