NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – More than a week into New Mexico’s latest crackdown to stop the spread of COVID-19, the state says a dozen businesses are on the verge of temporary closures because of continued cases. Those businesses are one what the Rapid Response COVID-19 Watchlist published by the New Mexico Environment Department.
The state announced the Rapid Response Watch List during a news conference last week.
If those 12 New Mexico businesses currently on the state’s watch list get any more COVID cases in the next week, they’ll likely have to close for fourteen days according to the Environment Department’s newer “closure requirement” rule.
“These businesses will all be very aware that we’ve been there, conducting Rapid Responses,” said Maddy Hayden, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Environment Department. “I don’t think it should come as too much of a surprise for people.”
Online, the latest Rapid Response Watch List shows 11 different businesses and even government offices have four or more COVID-19 cases in the workplace over the last two weeks. However, that list is different from the one the state is using in its consideration for workplace closures.
The state’s workplace closure list (with 12 establishments on the verge of temporary closure) only has seven days of case data from Oct. 23, 2020, the day the state began counting COVID-cases against businesses for purpose of workplace closure. So far, no one has breached the four-case mark since Oct. 23, 2020.
Over the next week, the New Mexico Environment Department is expecting that it will likely force two-week closures on a handful of businesses under the new “four-cases in two weeks” shutdown rule. That rule applies to food and drink establishments, retail spaces, hotels, and other places of lodging, and close-contact businesses like gyms and salons, as outlined in the Oct. 22 public health order. However, other businesses could also face the closure requirement.
“We do have discretion to look at other types of establishments,” Hayden said. “Depending on the level of public health, you now, threat, we may take action there, as well.”
Friday, Oct. 30 also makes the deadline for restaurants to complete the state’s newly required “New Mexico Safe Certified” training. According to the latest public health order, restaurants must complete the training if they want to continue offering indoor dining services.
A spokeswoman for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office said Friday more than 2,500 food and drink establishments have now completed the Safe Certified training. The Governor’s Office says any restaurant that doesn’t complete the training and still offers indoor dining can have their food permits pulled by the New Mexico Environment Department. Those establishments could also face criminal or civil penalties from the New Mexico Department of Health.
As of yesterday, about 2,500 restaurants had already completed the certification, even including restaurants that do not offer or do not plan to offer indoor dining. The industry has responded wonderfully to the call to get COVID-safe certified even if their circumstances do not require it, which the state wholly appreciates. We are grateful to every business that is committed to keeping their employees, their customers, and their community safe amid the ongoing pandemic – the COVID-Safe Training Program ensures that they have the tools to do so, and the response has been excellent. The state is fully empowered to enforce the public health regulations that food and drink establishments are required to adhere to and has been doing so since the outset of the pandemic. Any restaurant that does not complete the certification may not continue to offer indoor dining.Nora Meyers Sackett, Press Secretary, Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
As for the crackdown on people refusing to wear masks, KRQE News 13 found two citations over the past week through state court records. Las Cruces Police cited a Walmart customer and New Mexico State Police cited a customer at Tractor Supply Company in Las Vegas.