State Eases Capacity Limits for Essential and Big Box Stores but not for Most Businesses.

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State amends capacity requirements for essential retail spaces

Dec 16, 2020 | Press Releases

SANTA FE – The state’s emergency public health order on Wednesday was amended to accommodate slightly increased capacity inside essential retail spaces, such as grocery stores and certain other large “big box” retailers that generate a percentage of their revenue from consumable food and drink products, as cold weather grips most of New Mexico.

In accordance with the state’s graduated red-to-green system of measuring the risk of viral spread in specific counties, the changes establish that essential retail spaces:

  • May operate at 50 percent of maximum occupancy at the Green Level
  • May operate at 33 percent of maximum occupancy at the Yellow Level
  • May operate at 25 percent of maximum occupancy at the Red Level

Previously, essential retail spaces could operate with either a limit on maximum occupancy or a specific number of customers at one time, whichever was smaller. The change eliminates the latter provision.

The amended emergency public health order is effective today, Wednesday, Dec. 16 and can be found here.

“Our priority is ensuring physical distancing in high-traffic areas, like stores that people must frequent to meet essential needs,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “With colder weather here, we want to ensure that people aren’t gathering in lines for an unsafe length of time, especially in communities where there are fewer retail options for essential needs. We are grateful to the numerous companies and stores across New Mexico that have made every effort to keep their customers, employees and communities safe.

“The safe choices remain the same: Stay at home whenever you can, avoid groups and gatherings, and always wear your mask when you must leave the house,” the governor added.

Essential retail spaces, as defined in the emergency public health order, include grocery stores, supermarkets, food banks, farmers’ markets and vendors who sell food, convenience stores, and other businesses that generate more than one-third of their revenue from the sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet food, animal feed or supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other consumable food and drink products; automobile repair facilities, bike repair facilities, and retailers who generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of automobile or bike repair products; hardware stores; laundromats; and dry cleaner services.

The state encourages essential retailers to adopt designated hours for senior citizens or otherwise high-risk populations, and reminds New Mexicans to limit outings and the number of people who travel on those outings – for instance, shopping for groceries can be done by one household member, rather than an entire family.

For more information about the state’s red-to-green framework, visit cv.nmhealth.org/redtogreen.

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