State orders require non-essential businesses like nail salons or spas to shut down. The state’s Regulation and Licensing Department couldn’t say how many calls it’s received of people reporting businesses violating the state orders but did say it’s trying to be understanding.
“We’re taking a soft touch on that because we know people are really struggling, this is a really hard thing but it’s so important that they understand that they must comply with the law,” said Marguerite Salazar, Superintendent of RLD.
She said if a business is reported for violating the new orders, an investigator is sent out to explain them. If the business continues to break the law, then it is fined or could face sanctions on its license.
“If they don’t comply they really could get in a lot of trouble. We don’t want them to face sanctions once the order is lifted because, like I said earlier, we could deny their renewal,” said Salazar.
As of Thursday, April 2, RLD has not penalized any business for breaking state law.
New Mexico State Police are handling much of the enforcement of the stay-at-home order. Since the order was put in place from March 24 to April 1, state police said it’s received 1,090 calls of businesses or people not following social distancing and stay at home orders.
State police said most of the complaint calls were on businesses.
State police also haven’t given out any citations yet. It said it gives out warnings but if people or businesses continue to break the law then they could be given up to a $100 fine, six months in jail, or both.
The city of Albuquerque is also taking enforcement into its own hands. It said it’s doing this after 70 non-essential businesses were found to be skirting around the state orders.
“Smoke shops, massage parlors and other nonessential businesses flagrantly violating the public health order need to close today, or we are going to close you,” said Mayor Tim Keller in a press release. “We’ve reached a point where some businesses are blatantly trying to skirt the law and knowingly putting public health at risk. We do not relish the idea of going out and closing someone down, but putting a candy bar on the counter and calling yourself a grocery store doesn’t make you essential. The danger of this pandemic is very real, and we take our responsibility to public health very seriously.”
It said city departments will work with state police to identify problem businesses and issue citations. The city said it is also going to actively reach out to nursing homes, which house some of the most vulnerable to the Coronavirus and make sure they’re complying with state orders.
State police are directing anyone with questions about the state orders to this website.
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