Albuquerque continues business enforcement push as second COVID-shutdown begins

Coronavirus New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Hundreds of Albuquerque businesses can likely expect visits from city inspectors this week, as the city works to enforce the state’s latest public health order. The enforcement plan was one of several elements discussed by city officials at a news conference Tuesday morning.

For the next two weeks (through November 30,) the state is limiting the types of businesses that can remain open for in-person services, forcing non-essential businesses closed and strict capacity limits on grocery stores and essential retail. Albuquerque’s Fire Marshal Gene Gallegos said Tuesday the city’s public health order enforcement teams are still working hard.

“This week we will be going out and visiting all non-essential businesses to advise them on the public health order, if they’re open and they’re not supposed to be, and only doing curbside,” Deputy Chief Gallegos said. “We’ll continue to do spot checks throughout the week on all business types to ensure compliance of the public health order.”

AFR says city inspectors were out talking to businesses all weekend, in-part making sure businesses were enforcing the city’s “no hoarding” rules and getting ready to enact special shopping hours for seniors and people are high-risk. Those two measures are specifically outlined in the city’s Emergency Declaration surrounding the pandemic.

Gallegos says all retailers should now be compliant with rules outlined in the city’s emergency declaration and the public health order. Enforcement teams visited around 80 “big-box” retailers over the weekend.

Since October, the city’s health order enforcement team has talked about the rules with more than 3000 people or businesses. Tuesday, Mayor Tim Keller said he believes the city is making a good effort to enforce the health order.

“I know we’ve had our enforcement challenges, but I will tell you that again, on a relative basis compared to other cities, we’ve actually been doing, I think a yeoman’s job when it comes to enforcement,” Keller said. “We are trying very hard, you can’t enforce your way out of COVID, but we know that it helps and that’s why we’re going to keep doing it.”

Overseeing much of the enforcement effort, the city fire marshal says staff will be continue issuing “notices of violation” — if necessary. Albuquerque Police issued nine notices of violation last month, but those notices don’t carry any sort of court enforceable fine or punishment.

The Albuquerque Fire Marshall says staff is also working this week to clarify rules with churches. Gallegos said Tuesday that drive-up services don’t have capacity limits like indoor services do. A drive-up service is considered to be an outdoor church service where attendees remain in their own cars.

On Monday, the state entered a two-week shutdown in order to help control the spread of COVID-19. Nonessential businesses were required to close. Food and drink establishments may provide curbside pickup and delivery services while on-site dining is prohibited. Close-contact businesses such as barbershops, hair salons, gyms, group fitness classes, nail salons, massage parlors, and more were required to reduce in-person workforce by 100% through Nov. 30 during the health order.

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