ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – State officials have repeatedly warned New Mexicans that social distancing and mask wearing will in-part make or break the next steps of reopening. Some businesses are now seeing how challenging it will be to enforce the rules.

Some recent video provided to KRQE News 13 shows a clear example of people failing to follow social distancing, mass gathering, and mask-wearing rules in Albuquerque. Recorded Thursday evening, the video shows more than 30 people waiting outside of a Hooters restaurant off Alameda Blvd. Many in the group are standing within 6-feet of each other and many aren’t wearing masks while waiting for patio seating at the restaurant.

Albuquerque city officials addressed enforcement of state rules during a news conference Friday. The City’s Environmental Health Department has already received complaints about restaurants that have opened their patios since Wednesday.

“We’re all sort of adjusting to a new normal, what those new types of conditions are that restaurants are allowed to operate in, we’ve already received some complaints about exactly that nature of situation where, potentially social distancing isn’t being observed,” said Mark DiMenna, deputy director for the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department.

The city’s Environmental Health Department is sending out staff once again for on-site inspections, however, those inspectors are mainly looking at restaurant operations to be following the state’s so-called “COVID Safe Practices.” Those practices are surrounding rules for table set-up, sanitizing, staff wearing masks, and more.

The city says they know businesses are in a tough position responding to customer behavior. “The restaurants have a little bit of a time trying to enforce customers doing that, so those conditions might be looked into as long as the restaurants are doing what we’re asking them to do, keeping the tables spaced out, as the mayor just reinforced, it’s supposed to be patios only right now then there’s not an issue,” DiMenna said.

KRQE News 13 asked Mayor Tim Keller Friday if the city is looking to ramp up its enforcement of the state’s Public Health Order rules. The Mayor referred to the state as “leading enforcement.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is still urging New Mexicans to practice “positive reinforcement,” what could effectively be called “peer-pressure” toward people who aren’t wearing masks. Police are not writing tickets for people found in violation.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resources