ALBUQUERQUE – Some New Mexico essential businesses have been shut down because of a substantial increase in coronavirus cases.
A new edict announced Thursday allows the New Mexico Department of Health to shut down workplaces for two weeks if they have four or more coronavirus cases in a 14-day period.
More than 20 essential businesses across the state were shut down as of Friday, of which nearly half were grocery stores or major retailers. The closures include two Walmarts in Albuquerque, a Walmart in Santa Fe, a Target in Santa Fe and an Albertsons in Roswell, KOAT-TV reported.
“You can’t have a grocery store or another big box store that sells groceries if all of the employees or the vast majority of them have COVID. You can’t open up,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “And that’s the issue. ... There’s so much of this infection that it’s inside the very places people need to access.”
Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh said closures create long lines of waiting customers outside remaining stories, which must operate at reduced capacity. “It’s a pain, to put it mildly,” Kintigh told the Albuquerque Journal.
New Mexico Department of Health spokeswoman Marisa Maez said the state has discretion when considering which businesses to close, and considers whether a store provides essential goods. She said the current closures are not considered critical because they are in communities with “considerable alternatives.”
In another development, the state’s coronavirus dashboard on Saturday reported 2,342 additional COVID-19 cases and 25 more deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 79,440 cases and 1,350 deaths.
COVID-19-related hospitalizations in New Mexico increased to 825, up from 808 on Friday, increasing the state’s total to 6,072.