Restaurants reopen for dine-in eating as state eases restrictions

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After more than two months of curbside and delivery, restaurants in New Mexico are finally allowed to welcome customers inside to dine. It comes after restaurants open for patio dining less than a week ago. Customers are excited to be back inside a restaurant to eat a meal.

“Very good. It feels a little bit like normal. I feel like it’s part of the, I’ll say ‘healing process,’ as we all get used to whatever the next stage is. But, it feels like something is normal for a change,” Rebecca Campbell, a restaurant customer, said. “I couldn’t wait for June first!”

“The things we’ve been limited in doing…it’s nice to get a little bit of those freedoms back. And it’s nice to be able to go out and do something we used to do,” Holly Lawrence, a dine-in customer at Weck’s, said. “It’s nice to be able to come out and get a little bit of the normalcy back and some interaction.”

While dining-in feels familiar, it does look different during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the governor’s orders, restaurants are only allowed to be at half-capacity with tables at least six feet apart. Tables, menus, and condiments are sanitized between each guest. Employees are also screened before they head into work.

“It’s been three months but it, I feel like it’s been three years,” Joe Garcia, VP of Operations at La Peep and Weck’s restaurants, said. “We were just so excited whenever it just finally came to fruition that we’re going to be able to open up.”

At the Sadie’s off Academy, the eased restriction allows them to bring employees back after having to lay off about 70 due to the pandemic. “The most important thing about this is we were able to bring about 30 employees back. 30,” Roger Erker, owner-operator of Sadie’s of New Mexico on Academy, said. “That’s the most important thing is our employees being able to work. Because they want to. They don’t want to stay home, they want to come to work and they want to earn money.”

While dining in is allowed, buffets and bar seating are still off-limits. Restaurants are also offering customers the option to leave their contact information to help with contact tracing if an employee or customer that was at the restaurant at the same time, were to test positive for COVID-19. For more of the state’s health orders for businesses, click here.

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