Eviction moratoriums, vaccine mandates, and masks for vaccinated

Coronavirus New Mexico

It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

President Joe Biden

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Though the federal eviction moratorium ends Saturday, July 31, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered a temporary “stay” on evictions in March 2020. That “stay” came with no expiration date on evictions for those unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July, the order remains in place and the New Mexico Supreme Court has not signaled yet when it may change or reassess the decision. 

  • New Mexico’s “stay” does not mean no one can ever be evicted during the duration of the order.
  • Landlords can still file for evictions for many reasons.
  • Reasons for an eviction can include violating a lease agreement in a way that’s not about paying rent, such as committing a crime on the property or a tenant who doesn’t want to move out once their lease is expired.
  • To stop an eviction, a renter must participate in a hearing and provide a judge with evidence of their current inability to pay their rent. That inability to pay doesn’t have to be tied to COVID, but could be tied to something like job loss or benefit loss.
  • If a tenant doesn’t show up for court, the judge can make a determination there is no evidence to suggest a person can’t pay their rent.

The utility moratorium is expiring in New Mexico

As a moratorium from the state’s Public Regulation Commission (PRC) is set to expire, New Mexicans are once again at risk of having their utilities shut off for non-payment. There are millions of dollars available from the State to help cover New Mexicans’ rent and utility costs.

New Mexico’s largest utility, PNM is urging thousands of customers with unpaid bills to contact them before they lose power. In accordance with the expiration of the PRC’s moratorium, PNM will begin shutting off power to non-paying customers as soon as August 12. PNM said more than 47,000 households have past-due bills that could lead to power shutoffs as soon as mid-August.

PNM is urging its residential customers to contact the company for help paying past due balances. Those who need assistance can visit PNM.com/help or call the company at 855-364-2950. The PNM COVID Customer Relief Fund, the PNM Good Neighbor Fund, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and other resources may be available to help pay down or possibly pay off past-due bills for residential customers.

Xcel Energy

According to Xcel Energy’s website, as of August 16, the utility will resume residential electric disconnections due to non-payment, pending approval by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. The company has options available for assistance.

Vaccines

President Joe Biden announced Thursday federal workers will need to “attest” to being vaccinated or wear masks, regardless of the COVID-19 community spread where they live. Unvaccinated employees will need to comply with weekly or twice weekly testing and could face travel restrictions. The mandate applies to all federal contractors as well.

Following the President, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also announced on Thursday that she signed an executive order requiring all state employees to either be fully vaccinated or otherwise submit to regular COVID-19 testing. That order will take effect Monday, August 2.

Masks

As of July 1, 2021, all pandemic-related occupancy restrictions in New Mexico were lifted on all forms of commercial activity. The current public health order, extended through August 16, also allows all businesses across the State to operate at 100% of maximum capacity. However, in accordance with the latest official guidance from the CDC issued July 27, the State now recommends that fully vaccinated New Mexicans wear a face-covering in indoor settings. Albuquerque Public Schools, the University of New Mexico, and the VA Regional Offices have revised their mask policies, requiring masks for vaccinated people. 

“Now we’re up in the 240 (new cases per day) to 260 (range,) so a very similar ratio,” said Dr. David Scrase, during a recent news conference. Scrase was speaking of the roughly quadrupling of daily cases seen nationally over the last several weeks. The now acting Department of Health Secretary and Human Services Department Secretary, Scrase recently highlighted a concerning, similar rise in cases, comparing the rise in cases seen in September 2020 with the current rise in cases.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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