SANTA FE, New Mexico -- As Covid-19 cases surge in her state, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday afternoon issued new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
They include limiting gatherings to five people or less, an expansion of the mandatory quarantine for visitors from high-risk states, reduced hotel capacities and a set closing time for establishments serving alcohol.
Her announcement came as New Mexico state health officials on Tuesday reported 355 new Covid-19 cases, including 50 in Doña Ana County.
The high numbers of daily infections have continued in recent days since hitting a record of 488 last Friday, which was followed Saturday by 486 cases.
The state has now tallied 33,713 cases since the pandemic began, with 4,158 occurring in Doña Ana County. Officials said 918 New Mexico residents have died to date, including three additional victims Tuesday.
Lujan Grisham said the virus is spiking again in New Mexico right now and added that the state has experienced some of the worst increases in the U.S. so far this fall. Without a vaccine, she said officials have only a few tools to fight the virus — such as making people wear masks, staying home as much as possible and avoiding groups of people.
“This kind of overwhelming and dramatic statewide spread signals one thing: Too many of us, succumbing to Covid fatigue, are no longer taking those precautions. We are giving the virus too many opportunities to spread,” she explained.
Effective Friday, the governor's office said the following measures will go into effect:
- Temporary Closing Time
All food and drink establishments serving alcohol must close at 10 p.m. each night.
- Hotel Occupancy
The maximum occupancy restrictions will be reduced to 60 percent for places of lodging that have completed the N.M. Safe Certified training program and to 25 percent for places of lodging that have not completed the training program – a reduction of maximum occupancy from 75 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
The governor has amended her executive order that requires a period of mandatory self-quarantine for those individuals arriving into New Mexico from out of state. Those who arrive from “high-risk states” will no longer be exempt from the period of mandatory self-quarantine if they test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of their arrival into the state.
Anyone who arrives from those higher risk states must self-quarantine for a period of no less than 14 days or for the duration of their stay in New Mexico, whichever is shorter. A list of those high risk states is updated at cv.nmhealth.org/travel-recommendations.
- Mass Gatherings
Mass gatherings of more than 5 individuals are once again prohibited. Previously the state had allowed gatherings of more than 10 individuals. A “mass gathering” is defined as any public or private gathering, organized event, ceremony, parade, organized amateur contact sport, or other grouping that brings together individuals in an indoor or outdoor space.
The governor said she will provide further information behind her decision to impose these new restrictions during a briefing scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
But she noted the state for several weeks has missed benchmarks set by health officials for reopening, including virus spread and positivity rates and daily case totals. Hospitalizations also have increased.
Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is fast approaching the point when community spread of the virus becomes uncontrollable and the only option is to shut down opportunities for the virus to spread.
“Rollbacks will mean more economic turmoil for so many workers and business owners in our state who have already suffered and sacrificed so much,” she said. “But it is our only chance to prevent more devastating illness and to save lives. No one wants to come to that point.”
Without improvements, the governor's office said the state will again restrict indoor dining service and roll back maximum occupancy allowances at other retail and dining establishments.