ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller promised ramped up enforcement of the state’s face mask mandate, especially on city property. However nearly two weeks since the mayor’s announcement, some neighbors are concerned about a group of people continually gathering in a northeast skate park without face masks.
The North Domingo Baca Skate Park on Wyoming near Paseo del Norte is one of six skate parks in the city and one of the most popular. More than a dozen people were using the skate park Monday evening, but most were not wearing face coverings.
New Mexicans have been subject to a face mask mandate since mid-May to help stop the spread of COVID-19. During a July 1 news conference, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state would begin aggressive enforcement of face-covering mandate as part of the state’s public health order.
A handful of people spoke to KRQE News 13 about face-coverings at the skate park Monday. Several said they wear face masks when they’re going to more crowded locations, like grocery stores.
“Usually when I’m at stores I wear masks,” said Nina Seda, a junior at Ace Leadership High School in Albuquerque. “But when I’m out here just doing my own thing, I don’t necessarily wear a mask when I skateboard.”
Anthony Prime said, “It gets really hot when you’re breathing or skating.” Prime was not wearing a mask Monday evening. “I always forget mine, I get too hot even to breathe in anything, honestly.”
An incoming Albuquerque freshman, Thanh Duong, was also without a face-covering at the skate park Monday evening. Duong said while he worries about his parents’ health, he also tries to take precautions when he goes home.
“I feel like it’s a really serious situation like obviously it has killed many people, and many people have the coronavirus, but I’m not that worried about it myself,” Duong said. “My parents, I’m pretty worried for them … I go home, I always change my clothes, I’ll take a shower.”
There are few exceptions for not wearing a face mask in public under the state’s current health order. Before July 1, the state exempted face mask-wearing while exercising. That exemption no longer exists in the state’s rules.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced the cross-deputization of roughly 75 city employees on July 15, giving those employees the power to write “notices of violation” for people caught breaking the state’s health order. City officials say notice of violation can be referred to police for a possible $100 citation.
Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Director David Simon said Tuesday his staff is still focusing on issuing warnings to people found violating the health order. Simon says parks have added signage about the mask mandate in several locations. It also has roving park cleaning teams out reminding people to wear masks while handing out flyers about the state’s health order.
“What we see at this North Domingo Skate Park is somewhat typical in that there is always an element of the public that isn’t fully complying with the requirements,” Simon said. “You know, if you’re in a public place, cover your face.”
The city says park crews are also going to each of the city’s six skate parks seven days a week. Simon says parks staff hasn’t handed out any notices of violation yet.
Albuquerque Fire Rescue is in charge of keeping track of how many notices of violation are written around the city. A spokesman for AFR did not respond Tuesday to questions about how many warnings and notices of violation all city departments have written.