SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday announced the state’s emergency public health order will be amended to permit limited outdoor dine-in services for most of the state beginning Wednesday, May 27.
Dine-in services inside restaurants and bars remain temporarily prohibited. New Mexico is on target for a June 1 reopening of those services under a limited capacity per fire code occupancy restrictions – however, New Mexico health officials continue to monitor the rate of transmission in the state’s southwestern public health region, which if unchecked could preclude further reopenings in that region. The amended public health order does not apply to the northwestern public health region.
Under the amended public health order, which is attached and will be effective Wednesday, May 27, restaurants may offer dine-in service in outdoor seating areas at up to 50 percent of their outdoor area fire code occupancy. The following stipulations apply:
- No dine-in service may be provided in indoor seating areas.
- Outdoor dine-in service may only be provided to patrons who are seated.
- Tables must be placed with at least six feet of distance between one another.
- No more than six patrons may be seated at any single table.
- No bar or counter seating is permitted.
Bars – defined as food and beverage service establishments that derived more than 50 percent of their revenue in the prior calendar year from the sale of alcoholic beverages – are not included in this provision and may not operate outdoor or patio services at present. Bars may continue to operate for take-out and delivery if permitted under their applicable licenses.
“Our priority throughout this public health crisis has been the safety and health and well-being of New Mexicans, and this modification of the emergency public health order aligns with that mandate while providing an opportunity for restaurants to begin preparing for a wider reopening next week,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “We continue to see sustained, consistent progress in our fight against this virus, which is a credit to the New Mexicans who have amended their behavior to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe. I greatly look forward to being able to continue to ease the restrictions imposed on us by this heinous virus – provided that we continue on the right track and New Mexicans take every necessary precaution, whether in an individual capacity or as a business-owner or employee.”
“The New Mexico Restaurant Association is happy with the Governor’s decision to allow a soft opening, of outdoor dining, for restaurants on May 27,” said Carol Wight, the association’s chief executive. “We believe this will provide restaurants the opportunity to ease back into the swing of things while taking the time to properly train staff and implement COVID-19 safe procedures effectively, before fully opening to the public on June 1.
“At this time we ask our industry partners in Doña Ana County to seriously consider refraining from participation in this soft opening,” Wight added. “The rate of transmission is considerably higher in this area and in order for everyone to be able to safely reopen soon, the NMRA would like restaurants in this area to forgo the May 27 date and work hard to slow the spread for the June 1 reopening of our industry.”
COVID-safe practices for restaurants are available here and will be adhered to under any broader reopening that could take place early next week upon the expiration of the current emergency public health order.
The emergency public health order mandates compliance with COVID-Safe Practices for Restaurants, which have been updated with an adjustment related to contact tracing. The requirement is as follows:
“To support contract tracing, offer all customers who visit the establishment with the opportunity to record their name and phone number or email address, along with the date and time of their visit, and retain such records for no less than four weeks from the date of collection.”
All COVID-Safe Practices can be found in “All Together New Mexico: COVID-Safe Practices for Individuals and Employers”, which can be accessed and downloaded at newmexico.gov and cv.nmhelath.org at the link provided here. (The document includes COVID-Safe Practices for salons, spas, and tattoo parlors, although those are not yet permissible, in order to allow these establishments to prepare for what practices will be required upon a later limited re-opening.)
The amended public health order – which otherwise remains the same, meaning other close-contact facilities and outdoor recreation facilities must remain closed – will not apply to the northwestern public health region, encompassing the counties of Cibola, McKinley and San Juan. That public health region remains under the May 5, 2020, public health order but is on track to move ahead into broader reopenings beginning June 1.
The public health order dated May 15, 2020, can be found here.