FAQ: What you need to know about New Mexico’s Public Health Emergency Order

Coronavirus Resources

The State introduces new definitions to the Public Health Order

The purpose of the amended Public Health Emergency Order is to further restrict business operations and public gatherings to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in New Mexico. The initial public health emergency order was announced on March 11, 2020.

Public Health Order Red to Green

Q: What is different about the amended June 2 public health order?

Under a new public health order issued Wednesday, the state is now ordering all counties to operate in the Turquoise framework, regardless of if they’re meeting two of the three COVID-related criteria.

Q: Does this apply to all counties in New Mexico?

A: Yes

Q: How long will the new PHO run through?

A: The state’s public health order that includes county-by-county “red to green” framework will be in effect until June 30, 2021 or until amended.

Q. Are mask or multilayor face-coverings required?

A: Yes. Unless a healthcare provider instructs otherwise, all individuals shall wear a mask or multilayer cloth face covering in public settings except when:

  • eating or drinking;
  • exercising outdoors alone or with members of the same household;
  • or attending a small, outdoor gathering of fully vaccinated individuals no larger than the applicable mass gathering limit for the county or twenty (20) individuals, whichever is less.

Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask when attending small, outdoor gatherings of vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals no larger than the applicable mass gathering limit for the county or twenty (20) individuals, whichever is less.

“Retail spaces” may not allow an individual who is without a mask or multilayer cloth face covering to enter the premises except where that individual is in possession of a written exemption from a healthcare provider. Masks with vents do not satisfy this requirement.

Q: How is each of the Red, Yellow, Green levels determined?

A: The average COVID-19 test positivity and the incidence of new COVID-19 cases per capita determine what level a county is in. See New Mexico COVID-19 Red, Yellow, Green Level Definitions

Q: What do the Red, Yellow, Green, and Turquoise Levels mean?

A: Each Level has a different set of standards depending on the spread of the virus within a community, as determined by COVID-19 public health data. The Red Level signifies very high risk, the Yellow Level signifies high risk and the Green Level signifies medium risk. Counties at the Turquoise Level have reached the Green Level for two consecutive biweekly map updates. See New Mexico COVID-19 Red, Yellow, Green Level Definitions


Q: What qualifies as a(n)…

Essential Business?

“Essential businesses” means any business or non-profit entity falling within one or more of the following categories:

  1. Health care operations including hospitals, walk-in-care health facilities, pharmacies, medical wholesale and distribution, home health care workers or aides for the elderly, emergency dental facilities, nursing homes, residential health care facilities, research facilities, congregate care facilities, intermediate care facilities for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, supportive living homes, home health care providers, drug and alcohol recovery support services, and medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers;
  2. Homeless shelters, food banks, and other services providing care to indigent or needy populations;
  3. Childcare facilities;
  4. Grocery stores, supermarkets, food banks, farmers’ markets and vendors who sell food, convenience stores, and other businesses that generate more than one-third of their revenue from the sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet food, animal feed or supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other consumable food and drink products;
  5. Farms, ranches, and other food cultivation, processing, or packaging operations;
  6. Infrastructure operations including, but not limited to, public works construction, commercial and residential construction and maintenance, self-storage facilities, airport operations, public transportation, airlines, taxis, private transportation providers, transportation network companies, water, gas, electrical, oil drilling, oil refining, natural resources extraction or mining operations, nuclear material research and enrichment, those attendant to the repair and construction of roads and highways, gas stations, solid waste collection and removal, trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal, sewer, data and internet providers, data centers, technology support operations, and telecommunications systems;
  7. Manufacturing operations involved in food processing, manufacturing agents, chemicals, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, household paper products, microelectronics/semi-conductor, primary metals manufacturers, electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturers, and transportation equipment manufacturers;
  8. Services necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences or essential businesses including security services, towing services, custodial services, plumbers, electricians, and other skilled trades;
  9. Veterinary and livestock services, animal shelters and facilities providing pet adoption, daycare, or boarding services;
  10. Media services;
  11. Automobile repair facilities, bike repair facilities, and retailers who generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of automobile or bike repair products;
  12. Utilities, including their contractors, suppliers, and supportive operations, engaged in power generation, fuel supply and transmission, water and wastewater supply;
  13. Hardware stores;
  14. Laundromats and dry cleaner services;
  15. Crematoriums, funeral homes, and cemeteries;
  16. Banks, credit unions, insurance providers, licensed check cashing businesses, payroll services, brokerage services, and investment management firms;
  17. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services;
  18. Laboratories and defense and national security-related operations supporting the United States government, a contractor to the United States government, or any federal entity;
  19. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, but only where necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities; and
  20. Logistics and other businesses that store, transport, or deliver groceries, food, materials, goods, or services directly to residences, retailers, government institutions, or essential businesses.

Retail Space?

This means any business that regularly sells goods or services directly to consumers or end-users at the business location and includes, but is not limited to, the following “essential businesses” identified in the categories above.

Large Entertainment Venues?

This mean any publicly or privately owned venue typically or actually used to host large audiences for the purposes of entertainment or amusement, including, but not limited to: convention centers, concert venues, movie theaters, performance venues, professional or semi-professional sports venues, racetracks, and theaters.

Food and Drink Establishment?

“Food and drink establishments” include restaurants, breweries, wineries, distillers, cafes, coffee shops, or other similar establishments that offer food or drink. For purposes of this section, “breweries” are those businesses licensed pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 60-6A-26.1; “distillers” are those businesses licensed pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 60-6A-1; and “wineries” are those businesses licensed pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 60-A-11.

Bars and clubs?

This means any business, other than those specifically defined as a “food and drink establishment,” that typically or actually generates more than half of its revenue from the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption, as well as adult entertainment venues, nightclubs, and dance clubs, regardless of the source of their revenue.

Close-Contact Business?

“Close-contact businesses” include barbershops, hair salons, tattoo parlors, nail salons, spas, massage therapy services, esthetician clinics, and tanning salons.

Recreational facilities?

These means any publicly or privately owned facility typically or actually used for recreational activities capable of bringing persons within close proximity of one another, including, but not limited to: aquariums, amusement parks, arcades, basketball courts, baseball fields, bowling alleys, botanical gardens, family entertaimnent centers, football fields, go­kart courses, golf courses, guided raft and balloon tours, ice-skating rinks, museums with interactive displays or exhibits, miniature golf courses, ski areas, soccer fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, trampoline parks, youth programs, and zoos.

House of Worship?

“Houses of worship” means any church, synagogue, mosque, or other gathering space where persons congregate to exercise their religious beliefs.

Place of Lodging?

Hotels, motels, RV parks, and short-term vacation rentals.

All Other Businesses?

These are any entities that are not identified explicitly as an “essential business,” “house of worship,” “recreational facility,” “large entertainment venue,” “food and drink establishment,” “bars or clubs” or “place of lodging”.” Examples would include non-essential retail spaces like a clothing store, a gym, a group fitness class or a personal training service, among others.

Q: What if my business or nonprofit is not identified in any of the categories of the public health order or in the “red-to-green” levels framework?

A: According to the Governor’s Office, any entities that are not identified explicitly as an “essential business,” or those listed above, may operate under the Red to Green requirements for each county. See New Mexico COVID-19 Red, Yellow, Green Level Definitions

Additional Information

Q: What are New Mexico travel restrictions?

A: The state no longers require self-quarantine for visitors or New Mexicans arriving into the state from “high-risk” states, or states with a 5 percent positivity rate or greater over a 7-day rolling average, or a positive test rate greater than 80 per 1 million residents.

Q: Can businesses be open if they have four (4) or more rapid responses?

A: An “essential business” may be permitted to continue operating if the Department of Health, after consultation with the New Mexico Environment Department, determines that the business is a necessary provider of goods or services within the community in light of geographic considerations. Further, “essential businesses” that test each employee every two weeks and regularly provide contact tracing data to the Environment Department shall not be subject to closure under this provision. See COVID-19 Safe Practices

Q: Are State Parks open?

A: Several state parks are currently managing for wildfire closures and it is important for visitors to continue to check for details on specific park hours of operation and additional information before visiting. Check the State Parks website and know before you go.

Q: What is “Mass Gatherings” mean?

A: “Mass gathering” means any public gathering, private gathering, organized event, ceremony, parade, funeral, or any other grouping that brings together a specified number of individuals in a single room or connected space, confined outdoor space, or open outdoor space. “Mass gatherings” also includes coordinated events in which individuals gather in vehicles. “Mass gathering” does not include the presence of any number of individuals where those individuals regularly reside. “Mass gathering” does not include individuals who are public officials or public employees in the course and scope of their employment.

Q: Is this mandatory or just guidance? 

A: The “Public Health Emergency Order” is mandatory to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in New Mexico. 

Q: What happens if I don’t comply with this order? 

A: New Mexico State Police is in the position to hold businesses and people accountable. In the event businesses are not compliant, officers will:

  • First issue a written warning along with a cease and desist order.
  • On a second violation, the business will receive a citation under the Public Health Act
  • A third or subsequent violation will be sent to the Department of Health where businesses will face a civil penalty of up to $5,000.00.

“Public Health Act” according to New Mexico statue: “means an infection, a disease, a syndrome, a symptom, an injury or other threat that is identifiable on an individual or community level and can reasonably be expected to lead to adverse health effects in the community;”

Q: Who do I contact to report non-compliance?

A: Email covid.enforcement@state.nm.us include:

  • Date and time of the observed violation,
  • City,
  • County,
  • Business name and business address

Q: Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper and medicines? 

A: No. People will continue to be able to purchase food, toilet paper and medicine. However, people should only go to the grocery store once per week. Stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores will remain open. 

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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