SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — In final written arguments published Thursday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration urged the state Supreme Court to reject demands that businesses be compensated for losses linked to pandemic-related public health orders.
The high court is weighing whether financial compensation is due to businesses in response to the state's public health orders that ban mass gatherings and prohibit business activities such as indoor dining.
Businesses have scaled back or closed their doors as state health officials struggle to contain the coronavirus amid widespread testing and the rollout in December and January of the first vaccine doses.
Attorneys representing the governor's office and state Health Department say that enforcement of public health orders derives for a long-standing principle that property rights contain an inherent limitation not to use property in a manner that endangers others.
A coalition of businesses says pandemic restrictions have effectively seized private property from businesses that might otherwise have taken their own precautions against the spread of COVID-19. Their lawsuit characterizes the state's public health emergency orders as a regulatory taking the merits compensation to businesses.
The case will likely decide the fate of more than a dozen lawsuits by businesses running the gamut from an oxygen healing bar in downtown Santa Fe to a florist in Farmington and an auction house in rural Portales claiming they were adversely affected by the state’s pandemic response.