SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A positive sign for one of New Mexico’s growing industries as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says breweries can begin seating customers again. The so-called “soft reopening” is slated for Friday, June 12, when breweries will be allowed to have customers sit in outdoor and patio seating at 50% occupancy under changes to the current COVID-19 health order.
Beginning Monday, June 15, breweries will be allowed 50% maximum occupancy for indoor seating, as well. However, the singular change to the state’s health order announced in a news conference Thursday was also a sign that the state is focusing on what the state called a “paced” approach toward reopening, compared to some neighboring states.
“I have no doubt that the New Mexico public is clear that we’ve introduced risk, it’s calculated, managed, prudently done and now we wait and we look at what the data says a week from today about where we are, and remember the real trend lines are 14 days worth of data,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
Breweries must adhere to COVID-Safe Practices for restaurants when they open. That in-part means seated service only and tables must be safely spaced out.
The soft reopening for breweries excludes bars. The governor says that’s because people tend to stay at bars longer, later at night and drink more which can lead to risky behavior.
“Bars, people stay longer, they stay open later, I have a different dynamic about how people interact and behave in bars,” the Governor said. “Again, I don’t want the the viewers who are hearing this, that these are opinions, about behavior, it’s just that that… that’s why we go to a bar.”
Amid announcement of 121 new COVID-19 cases in the state Thursday, New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase says there has been a dramatic jump in the number of COVID-19 cases over the last ten days. Scrase said it means the state will put it’s foot on the brake and watch carefully for the next few weeks.
“In part, this is likely due to reopening,” Dr. Scrase said. “I want to remind everyone the virus doesn’t change, it’s the human interactions and the intensity of the human interactions that cause these curves to go up and down,”
During Thursday’s news conference Dr. Scrase also showed that due to the significant rise in cases, New Mexico has joined neighboring states and classified as not doing well as it begins to reopen. The Governor highlighted neighboring states that have opened faster and seen larger spikes in new COVID-19 cases, including Arizona.
On the treatment front, the state says it’s continuing to use incoming stock of Remdesivir, the anti-viral drug undergoing clinical trials. Dr. Scarse says he did not have data available about how the drug is working in New Mexico, but offered background on what broader research is suggesting.
“The literature now suggests, that even though it’s an investigational drug, that it shortens the course of illness by four dates, from 14 to 10 days, and this is generally used in severely ill patients and mortality rates is reduced substantially, as well,” Dr. Scrase said.
The governor continued to urge people to wear masks in public, to keep socially distancing and to stay home if they are sick. Dr. Scrase also pointed out that much higher COVID-19 infection rates have been see in lower income areas, according to data.
Governor Lujan Grisham also says that while many places have slowed the infection rate, including Bernalillo County, there are still problems with the virus spreading fast in the McKinley, San Juan and Dona Ana Counties.