Albuquerque Mayor reflects on city’s shift into ‘yellow’ COVID restrictions

Coronavirus New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As Bernalillo County moves into yellow-level COVID restrictions for at least the next two weeks, Albuquerque’s mayor is urging people and businesses to try to keep it that way. Meanwhile, the city is trying to get everyone up to speed on the latest rules.

Seeing a trend in dropping COVID-19 cases, Mayor Tim Keller said Thursday the city’s enforcement team started preparing for a possible yellow status as of last week. Keller addressed the new yellow level restrictions at a news conference at 505 Central Food Hall downtown which opened its seats to indoor dining Thursday. Indoor dining has been off-limits since well before Thanksgiving.

“All of our enforcement team right now is focused on how to reopen under compliance,” Keller said. “Believe it or not, that can actually be somewhat new for a lot of businesses that were closed before and just opening, so our team is fully booked in terms of how to do that.”

The mayor urged people Thursday to support local businesses, especially those hit hard by months of tough indoor capacity restrictions. Meanwhile, the city says it’s taking the new rules of the “yellow” framework to expand the number of people at community centers, museums and swimming pools among other city services. The city is also working toward reopening city buildings by appointment only.

The mayor also openly admitted Thursday that he remains concerned about the city’s first two-week stint into yellow and how it might not last. This is the first time Bernalillo County has been yellow since the framework was introduced in November.

“I’m absolutely worried about that, but I think people really understand (the consequences) now,” Keller. “I have faith in Burqueños that after going through the summer where we gradually reopened and then having to totally shut down in the fall that was only three months ago, we all remember that experience, and I would just ask people to remember that in the spring, right? We don’t want to go through that again.”

The mayor’s also reminded people Thursday widespread COVID-19 testing can play a huge part if the county stays in yellow by affecting the numbers charted in the positivity rate. So far, the city hasn’t announced any other new testing efforts.

The city said it’s continuing to push for travelers to get tested on site at the Albuquerque Sunport, especially as the state relaxes travel restrictions. Sunport officials said Thursday they’re now expecting a gradual increase in travelers through 2021.

Air traffic has dramatically reduced at the Sunport with fewer than 2 million people flying through the facility in 2020. In 2019, 5.4 million people used the Sunport for travel.

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