Two restaurant owners plan on keeping dine-in service, defying public health order

Coronavirus New Mexico

CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – Two restaurants in southeast New Mexico are publicly planning to defy the new state health order. They say they’ll continue to offer indoor dine-in service even when it’s banned, starting July 13.

The Trinity Hotel in Carlsbad and Pizza Inn in Hobbs are taking a stand. They’re refusing to close their indoor dine-in services come July 13. It’s a move against the governor’s health order, which was amended amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

“Closing is basically a death sentence,” said Michael Moore, the owner of Pizza Inn. “You can choose to close down or make a stand and try and save your business.”

Both owners said business is down at least 30% from this time last year, and said it would be hard to stay afloat without dine-in services. 

“This is not fair to our businesses and it’s certainly not fair to my 41 employees, whose families depend on this business,” said Dale Balzano, owner of Trinity Hotel. “And that’s the main reason I’m refusing to close, I have to take care of my employees, they come first.” They said they’ll continue to limit capacity to 50%, have employees wear masks, and keep customers socially distant.

Tripp Stelnicki, the Communications Director with the governor’s office responded to the restaurants potentially defying the governor’s public health order in an email to KRQE as follows: 

“There are consequences for violating the public health order and endangering the health and lives of New Mexicans. On top of that, and more important, this business owner will spread the virus and infect people in his community. Everyone knows how hard this is for businesses and the state has done and will continue to do everything it can for affected workers.”

Tripp Stelnicki

Starting July 13, restaurants and breweries can still offer outdoor seating at half capacity, plus takeout and delivery. The governor has said businesses in defiance face a fine of $5,000 a day. The owners of Trinity Hotel and Pizza Inn told KRQE it would be too expensive for them to make an outdoor space.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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