SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday issued a new public health order that places each of New Mexico’s 33 counties in the least-restrictive category when it comes to pandemic-related mandates.
While state officials pointed to the decreased risk of COVID-19 transmission statewide, Lujan Grisham’s administration acknowledged that five rural counties would have slipped back into the more restrictive yellow category within the state’s color-coded risk system had it not been for the new health order.
The governor has set a goal of ending the color-coded system at the end of June, as long as 60% of residents are fully vaccinated by then.
“We’re almost there,” she said in a statement, suggesting that more vaccinations would pave the way for small businesses and the economy to “roar back to life.”
Vaccination rates in De Baca, Guadalupe, Harding, Roosevelt and Torrance counties have lagged as not all residents want to get shots.
With the pace of vaccination registration slowing overall, the state on Tuesday rolled out a new effort that uses cash to get more people in line. New Mexico is offering the largest single cash prize — $5 million — among a growing number of states staging lotteries to promote inoculations.
According to the latest state data, about 56% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.
Republican state lawmakers are criticizing the governor for using federal pandemic relief aid for the vaccination lottery. They argue that Lujan Grisham’s vetoes earlier this year of legislative proposals for how to use the money were unconstitutional and that Democratic lawmakers have been unwilling to take action to preserve the Legislature’s authority.
“It is clear she wants to use this money to rehabilitate her image amid numerous scandals and New Mexico’s anemic recovery,” said Sen. Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho.
Urging Democratic lawmakers to push back, he said that giving any governor the unilateral authority to dole out billions of taxpayer dollars is “unconscionable and unconstitutional.”
Legislators in March assigned $1.1 billion to backfill the state’s unemployment insurance trust, underwrite roadway projects, provide several years of tuition-free college to in-state students and shore up finances at state museums. Lujan Grisham vetoed those provisions.
Turquoise Level Health Rules
Essential businesses (non-retail): No capacity restrictions but operations must be limited to only those absolutely necessary to carry out essential functions
Essential retail spaces: 75% of maximum capacity indoors; no restrictions on outdoor spaces.
Food and drink establishments (if NM Safe Certified): 75% of maximum capacity for indoor dining; 75% of maximum capacity for outdoor dining
Close-contact businesses: 75% of maximum capacity; no restrictions on outdoor spaces
Large entertainment venues: 33% of maximum capacity for any indoor/enclosed space on premises; 75% of any outdoor space on premises
Recreational facilities: 50% of maximum capacity of any indoor/enclosed space on the premises; 75% of any outdoor space on premises
Bars and clubs: 33% of maximum capacity of any indoor/enclosed space on premises; 75% of any outdoor space on premises, where applicable
**All other businesses: 75% of maximum capacity indoors; no restrictions on outdoor spaces
Houses of worship: May operate at 100% capacity indoors or outdoors should they so choose
Places of lodging: No maximum occupancy restrictions for those that have completed NM Safe Certified training; 50% of maximum occupancy for all others; 15 guests maximum for vacation rentals
Mass gatherings limit: 150 persons