The City Commission passed the resolution unanimously, although it does not take effect until May 16 and includes the proviso that if the Governor institutes a differing executive order or extends the May 15 order, the City resolution is moot.
Before passing the resolution the board amended all “shoulds” to “shalls” to make the wording stronger.
The City Commission seemed to be considering public input, which asked that the board wait to get more feedback from the public and improve the resolution before passing it.
One of the repeated criticisms by the public was the wishy-washy switching back and forth between “shalls” and “shoulds” in the restrictions, “rendering the resolution useless,” resident Ariel Dougherty pointed out.
After public comment and board discussion, Mayor Pro-Tem Brendan Tolley asked if the resolution should not be tabled. The board’s next regular meeting is May 13, Tolley pointed out, which precedes the expiration date of the Governor’s order, giving them time to hear from the public and improve the resolution.
Tolley noted the “weakness” of the language and agreed with several public comments requesting that testing be addressed, which the resolution ignores.
Defining the local existing testing capability and possibly expanding testing for COVID-19 is an integral part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for reopening businesses. To safeguard public health, those infected need to be isolated, and since people without symptoms can be carriers as well as those with symptoms, testing is necessary to identify them to contain the spread.
Testing in sufficiently large numbers can also gauge if opening businesses is causing increased or decreased infection. The CDC states no increase in infection rate is to attend businesses reopening.
Mayor Sandra Whitehead asked City Manager Morris Madrid to address Tolley’s question about putting off passage of the resolution.
Madrid informed the board that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has asked for such back-to-work resolutions now, not later, in order to get “feedback from the governing body.”
Grisham has been holding electronic conferences with emergency managers and emergency executive directors. The former are mostly city and county managers and the latter are mayors and chairpersons on local governing boards. Therefore her feedback has been limited.
Resolutions passed by whole governing bodies will give the Governor differing insights by elected officials consulting their constituents and how they feel communities are best protected while getting back to work.
Madrid also said the Governor may or may not extend the May 15 executive order, handing control over to local governing bodies, recognizing the differences among communities and how each has been affected by the virus. In case the Governor does not extend the statewide order, “We want to be ready,” Madrid said.
Madrid said he is slated to be tested for the virus tomorrow, and will discuss the issue of expanding testing with the Public Health office. “If it’s a matter of money, we can help with that.”
Madrid and Whitehead both emphasized that the resolution is a working document and can be revised much more easily than an ordinance, which requires public hearings.
The back-to-work resolution will be brought up at all subsequent meetings, Whitehead said, including the next regular meeting May 13.
The City Commission passed the resolution unanimously.
Restrictions in the resolution are below.
The following safe practices shall be followed as appropriate:
- Continue social distancing of six feet while working, shopping and all other times possible.
- Employees of business establishments shall wear masks. Businesses have the right to require customers to wear masks.
- Gatherings of 10 persons or more are prohibited.
- Sanitation supplies and/or facilities shall be available at all times.
- Vulnerable individuals shall continue to stay at home.
- Non-essential travel shall be prohibited.
a. Previously closed bars, restaurants and bowling center may operate at 50-percent capacity as defined by the New Mexico State Fire Marshal. Distances between table/barstools less than six feet are prohibited.
b. Previously closed retail stores may operate at 20-percent capacity as defined by the New Mexico State Fire Marshal.
c. Medical facilities may operate at 100-percent capacity while maintaining safe distancing and sanitizing requirements.
d. Personal-service businesses, such as cosmetologists, barbers, manicurists, etc., may service customers on a one-on-one basis. No waiting areas will be permitted.
e. Recreational facilities may open if they are able to follow safe-distancing requirements. This includes outdoor courts, swimming pools
(swimming-pool capacity at 50 percent). This also includes indoor- recreation activities such as movie theaters and senior-activity centers.
f. The Civic Center shall remain closed to public events and gatherings of 10 persons or more.