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‘They can’t afford this’: Las Cruces residents protest anniversary of virus restrictions on businesses

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- After one year of virus restrictions and rolling closures in New Mexico, dozens of Las Cruces residents gathered downtown to protest the effects on the business community Saturday morning.

Their main purpose was to commemorate businesses that have had to close permanently as a result and use them as an example as to why the governor needs to open New Mexico back up so more businesses aren’t forced to close. 

“They can’t afford this anymore,” said Jeff Howey, a Las Cruces resident who participated in the protest. “We’re standing for freedom of New Mexicans to open their businesses freely and not be illegally restricted by the Governor.”

“I want the businesses to get back to work,” said Shelly Gibbs. “I know a lot of people are losing their businesses and their livelihood. I just feel so badly for them, I want them to go back to work.”

Gibbs told ABC-7 while she hopes Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham takes notice of their rally, she doesn’t think she will care. 

“It’s been tragic, the other states around us are open and there’s no difference in the numbers but you don’t hear that from the governor,” Gibbs said. “It’s time for us to open up.”

The governor's office has not yet returned ABC-7's request for comment, but Lujan Grisham has repeatedly credited her virus restrictions with saving lives across New Mexico.

“I was really worried,” the governor told the Albuquerque Journal in a recent interview recounting the early days of the pandemic. “I knew that people were going to die, and there was a lot at stake here.”

Before issuing the first restrictions one year ago, the governor warned “I will use every tool and resource to keep us safe.”

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Rachel Phillips

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