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Governor mandates face coverings, eases some restrictions for businesses


At a Wednesday, May 13, news conference, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a new state public health order mandating that “everyone in New Mexico will wear masks in public spaces.” Exceptions, she said, are eating and outdoor exercising. Face coverings can be handmade, the governor said, as she demonstrated how to make a face covering from a bandana. The state has more than 400 people making masks which she said will be provided to people who cannot make them or buy them.

Also effective Saturday, May 16 (except in the northwest New Mexico counties of Cibola, McKinley and San Juan where “risk of spread remains too high”):
• All retailers can begin to operate at 25 percent of fire code capacity;

Office spaces and call centers can operate at 25 percent of pre-COVID-19 staff levels;

Houses of worship can operate at 10 percent of occupancy;

• In-person summer programs and sports camps will be restricted to five-to-one child-to-adult ratios for children who live in the local geographic area only;

• Sports programs must be restricted to contactless sports only and non-competitive play;

COVID-safe practices must continue to be practiced, including not congregating in groups of more than five and maintaining social distancing of at least six feet. No large entertainment gatherings are allowed.

Gyms, salons, indoor malls and dine-in at restaurants are not included in the May 16 re-opening, the governor said. But, more “high-intensity contact” in salons, barbershops, gyms, indoor malls and dine-in restaurants may be allowed in early June if COVID-19 numbers continue to show progress, she said.

The science guides every single decision we make,” Lujan Grisham said.

“We’re starting to see the downward trend and that’s great,” said New Mexico Human Services Department Sec. David Scrase. New Mexico, he said, is in the 10 top among states in the proportion of the state population that has been tested. He said the state has doubled the number of baseline emergency room beds available and the status of the statewide healthcare system is good. Scrase said the rate of spread of COVID-19 in going down statewide but is going up in southwest New Mexico, including Doña Ana County. That is “something we’ll be watching very, very closely,” Scrase said. He said New Mexico also has a higher rate of COVID-19 infection among children, ages 0-19. At 13 percent, he said, it is four times higher than the national average.