State amends capacity requirements for essential retail businesses

Coronavirus New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Many grocery and big box stores can now significantly boost their capacity under the updated public health order. Essential retailers can follow a simple 25% capacity rule, as of Wednesday.

Shoppers at big box stores like Walmart off Coors and I-40 said they’re thankful for the change to be able to avoid waiting in long lines in the cold to get inside, as many New Mexico stores previously had a 75-person limit.” We waited for about an hour and a half today and we were here at 7:30 a.m. this morning and it was just really slow but now, as you can see, there’s no line,” Julian Chavez of Albuquerque stated.

Hardware stores like Home Depot also fall into the essential retailer category under the updated health order. The location off Coors and I-40 can now allow 381 people in the store at one time, under that new rule.

It was a different story in Uptown, where customers waited up to 25 minutes to get into Target around 11 a.m. Wednesday. Store managers said they will boost their capacity on Thursday to 375 people, and that they’re happy they’ll be able to get customers out of the cold.

Meanwhile, in the northeast heights, shoppers could walk right into Smith’s without a wait. A smaller store like Trader Joe’s said it’s already been running at 25% for a while, meaning the line to get in likely won’t be going away any time soon.

“I think it’s ridiculous and I think it’s arbitrary and I think that it’s putting businesses out of business and actually that it’s more dangerous for people to be standing in line next to the same people for two hours rather than in and out of the store,” said one Trader Joe’s shopper who wanted to stay anonymous.

As for Costco, one of the busiest big box stores, Albuquerque Fire Rescue confirms 25% capacity lets them have up to 520 customers inside the store. The 25% capacity rule also applies to laundromats, food banks, farmer’s markets, and car and bike repair shops.

Capacity restrictions could be loosened even more as covid case numbers improve. Under the governor’s red-to-green framework for reopening the state, counties at the red level will remain at 25% maximum occupancy. That can increase to 33% occupancy for counties in yellow and half capacity for counties in green.


New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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