Albuquerque health inspectors identifying frequent COVID-related violations

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque health inspectors are watching out for businesses violating the state’s public health order. In the process, they’re finding some rules being broken far more than others from issues with masks to soda fountains.

According to a recent report published by the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, inspectors hit nearly 40 businesses just last week. Around a quarter of those businesses have issues, including retailers, food establishments, and hotels.

“Certainly, by in large it’s mask compliance,” said Dr. Mark DiMenna, deputy director of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department. “Whether it’s the customers, the clientele aren’t wearing masks and being reported by other people who come by or are clients, but also in a lot of cases it’s exactly that, the staff you know, they kind of work all day in these, let them sag or they pull them down because they don’t like the way they feel to breathe through.”

Mask issues came up four times in the last round of inspections. Some of the specific issues inspectors noted included missing mask requirement signs to employees wearing masks under their noses.

All of the violations are now being compiled in the city’s weekly “COVID Inspections Report.” The newer weekly compilation was designed to help clearly identify COVID-compliance issues at businesses across the city.

Another common issue has been soda fountains. Last week, inspectors found four Albuquerque food establishments that were still allowing customers to use self-serve soda fountains. Inspectors stopped the practice at the Jimmy Johns and Five Guys Burgers near Paseo and I25 and the Subway restaurants on 98th Street and near San Mateo and I-40. The city says those kinds of crackdowns often come based on complaints.

“We’re seeing a lot of it because we went looking for it,” DiMenna said. “We’ve tried to do that wherever we feel like there’s a category of compliance or a group of things not complying, we try to narrow it down and go see those places, let them know what they need to do, in most cases it gets fixed right away.”

Another notably unique violation happened at the Howard Johnson hotel near Lomas and I-25. According to the city’s most recent report, inspectors had to shut down the hotel’s pool, writing, “public health order requires that all ‘outdoor recreational facilities,’ that includes swimming pools, as well as ‘close contact recreational facilities,’ must close or remain closed.”

. Out of all of the recent violations, city health inspectors did not shutter or fine any businesses.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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