SANTA FE — New Mexico will allow restaurants, shopping malls and salons to reopen at limited capacity starting on Monday, June 1, as state health regulators relax restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Over the past few weeks, protesters had taken to the streets in front of Animas Valley Mall to protest the stricter regulations Lujan Grisham had put in place. In light of the governor’s Thursday announcement protesters canceled a rally planned for Santa Fe on Saturday.
In light of the governor’s Thursday announcement protesters canceled a rally planned for Santa Fe on Saturday.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the changes under a new 30-day public health order, speaking Thursday at an online news conference from the Statehouse.
“This is really good news,” Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexicans have worked really heard to respect and protect each other, and in fact it’s paying off. ... We can restart out economy. We can come back strong.”
She also urged people to not let their guard down and to use increased caution as they venture out to more businesses and public venues. Health officials also outlined a new rapid response initiative for responding to COVID-19 outbreaks at businesses, starting on Monday.
Nine more state parks are opening, though not for overnight camping. Drive-in movies are sanctioned and the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement for incoming commercial air travel is being dropped for some business.
Restaurants can open at 50% of maximum capacity, while a 25% limit will be applied to shopping malls, hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, massage services and nail salons as they return to business for the first time since March. Loitering is prohibited, and food courts will remain closed.
The changes apply to the entire state, including the northwest of the state that accounts for the majority of infections statewide.
Gyms and hotels also will be allowed to operate at 50% of maximum occupancy, though group fitness classes are prohibited. The reopening comes with other industry-specific restrictions to limit transmission of COVID-19.
The state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Grants Mayor Martin Hicks to adhere to public health emergency orders after he attempted to override state restrictions by encouraging local businesses to resume activity and directed city officials to reopen a municipal golf course against the governor’s health orders.
Siding with the state, the court said that public health emergency orders from the Health Department secretary “shall supersede contrary orders and directives by (Hicks) concerning the legality of mass gatherings and the exceptions provided for essential services.”
The governor said she personally has followed a “higher standard” in adhering to state health orders and precautions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, in response to questions about her purchase of jewelry by phone for remote pickup in April from a store in Albuquerque when nonessential retail stores still were ordered closed.
Lujan Grisham noted that she began wearing a mask in public before it became a state requirement and has refrained from visiting her mother in person at a nursing home since January as a public safety precaution.
She described reports about the jewelry purchase as “wildly inaccurate” without identifying specific inaccuracies. Spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett has said the transaction was entirely contact-less and that the store was never “opened” when a friend of the governor’s went to pick up merchandise off-site.
“Here’s what is accurate,” she said. “Support local businesses, do no in-person shopping — businesses that are closed are not open for that. ... I’m happy to demonstrate that I can lead by example. I should be accountable.”
State health officials reported 108 new confirmed COVID-19 infections and six related deaths. That brings total confirmed infections to 7,364 and 335 known coronavirus deaths. There were 196 hospitalized patients.
More than 183,000 tests have been conducted across a state of 2.1 million residents.
Federal health authorities have confirmed one case in New Mexico of multi-system inflammatory syndrome associated with coronavirus in a juvenile patient, Human Services Secretary David Scrase said. Symptoms of the syndrome resembled those of Kawasaki disease, a rare blood vessel disorder.
“I’m told the child is doing well though and in great care,” he said. He flagged the state’s above-average infection rate among children as a continued point of concern.
Meanwhile, the state court system plans in mid-June to resume jury trials that had been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
An order issued Thursday by the state Supreme Court’s chief justice lifts the suspension that has been in place since March. The state’s 13 judicial districts can start jury trials beginning June 15 through July 15.