GRANTS, N.M. (KRQE) – Starting Monday, the mayor of Grants is giving permission to small businesses to re-open. This defies the governor’s order, forcing non-essential businesses to close amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The owner of Papa’s Pawn Shop has been going against the governor’s order for more than a month now and has even been cited. She says her decision to remain open is not because she’s reckless, and Monday will be no different except with the support of the mayor.

Last week, Mayor Martin Hicks announced he would be allowing small businesses to re-open and claims the governor gave the city of Grants no choice but to do this because the state’s health order is hurting the city. This announcement came shortly after 81 businesses in Grants signed a petition calling for re-opening.

One of those businesses, Papa’s Pawn Shop, has been open, but with restrictions. “We only allowed two people at a time in our store,” says Diane Rowe, the owner.

That’s the way it’s been for Papa’s Pawn Shop since Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued all non-essential businesses to close. “I don’t agree with her standpoint. All businesses should’ve been able to be open with precautions,” said Rowe.

Rowe, stands by the mayor and believes businesses should have the choice to stay open if they want, all while following necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We’re not allowing browsers at this time. We greet people at the door and ask them how can we help you. If they say we’re looking or just browsing, we ask them to come back after the virus is over,” said Rowe.

Last week, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she’s disappointed with Mayor Hicks and threatened to cite any business that opens without permission.

“This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Flies in the face of every single positive, productive, evidence-based public health effort,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Rowe was cited last week by New Mexico State Police for keeping her doors open. She says she understands how serious the virus is after her son got it and recovered, but continues to stand by her beliefs on staying open.

“You can’t take somebody’s right to earn a living away,” she says. Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace says he sides with Mayor Hicks, but will not stand in the way of NMSP citing any businesses.

He only asks NMSP to be compassionate with business owners. Papa’s Pawn says they will continue to follow their restrictions while staying open.

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