Governor says more restrictions coming to New Mexico businesses

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday announced new restrictions on businesses in response to rising COVID-19 cases and threatened even more to come if the numbers don’t come down.

Critics of the restrictions say the state’s economy is suffering worse than others because of them.

Beginning Friday, bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m. each night or face the potential of losing their licenses. The curfew will be “rigorously” enforced, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Hotels and other lodging sites will be limited to 60 percent capacity if they have completed the N.M. Safe Certified training program, down from 75 percent. Those that haven’t completed the training program will be restricted to 25 percent capacity, down from 50 percent.

“Rollbacks will mean more economic turmoil for so many workers and business owners in our state who have already suffered and sacrificed so much,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “But it is our only chance to prevent more devastating illness and to save lives.”

As a result of the government-imposed restrictions, New Mexico has the sixth-highest unemployment rate in the U.S.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 70,000 workers in New Mexico were receiving unemployment benefits as of the end of September. That doesn’t include the nearly 40,000 self-employed workers who were receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through the federal government.

“New Mexico’s energy industry continues to be among the hardest hit during this pandemic and questionable lockdown decisions are part of the reason,” Larry Behrens, Western States Director for Power the Future, said. “Many would love to ask the reasoning behind some of her public health orders, but the Governor’s lockdown advisory meetings are closed to the public ensuring our families are left without answers. Every other state in the country is grappling with the same pandemic yet the vast majority of them are able to get more of their people back to work. Why can’t New Mexico?”

Earlier this month, Dr. David Scrase, secretary of the state Human Services Department and the governor’s lead advisor on mitigation efforts, said that none of the advisory meetings where decisions on COVID-19 restrictions are made, were open to the public.

Lujan Grisham also announced Tuesday that gatherings of more than five people will again be prohibited beginning Friday, down from 10. And anyone who enters New Mexico from a “higher-risk” state will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Most of the country is listed as higher risk, according to the state’s website, including all of New Mexico’s neighbors.

As of Monday, the state has reported 33,362 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, with 915 deaths. Also as of Monday, the state reported 18,791 individual in New Mexico who tested positive for the respiratory disease have recovered, and 127 people were in the hospital.

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