March 15, 2020

Guv issues directive aimed at limiting face-to-face contact by state agencies

The seal of the state of New Mexico in the House

State museums, state parks and other facilities will be closed beginning Monday as part of the governor’s Sunday directive to agencies to minimize face-to-face contact.

The governor announced the directive in a release Sunday afternoon, which excludes those deemed essential to public health and safety.

The governor’s directive says that state museums, state historic sites, state parks and cultural institutions will be closed to the public effective Monday morning. The Rail Runner, which runs between Belen and Santa Fe, will be closed during the state public health emergency, which Lujan Grisham declared last Wednesday.

“We continue to adapt as the situation changes, choosing needed, measured responses to stay a step ahead of the virus,” Lujan Grisham said. “We’ve already asked New Mexicans to avoid social contact wherever possible. We are now trying to reduce social contact for as many of our 17,000 state government employees as possible.”

Sunday evening, the state Motor Vehicle Division announced their offices will operate only by appointment until further notice.

The City of Albuquerque announced its plans to limit face-to-face contact minutes after Lujan Grisham’s release.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said that beginning Monday, March 16, it would implement mandatory telework for all city employees who can do so, and non-essential employees who cannot telework will be told to stay home.

“Social distancing is a proven booster shot to reducing the spread of the coronavirus and reducing the risks in our community, including for the local healthcare system,” Keller said in a statement. “We had already taken steps to ensure that no City employee has to choose between staying home when they have symptoms and getting a paycheck. While we’re keeping critical services running, we need everyone in Albuquerque to do their part by maximizing social distancing in every way possible, including avoiding mass gatherings and protecting vulnerable populations.”

The mayor’s office also announced all BioPark facilities will be closed until at least April 15. This includes the city’s zoo.

The governor also previously banned social gatherings of over 100 people, closed public schools through April 3 and called for limitations on visits to nursing homes.

The governor’s directive only applies to executive branch agencies. 

The Secretary of State’s office announced the suspension of nearly all in-person services.

NM Political Report previously reported on efforts by state agencies to reduce face-to-face contact while keeping services open.

The state encourages anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to call their health provider or the state’s hotline at 1-855-600-3453. The state established a separate hotline for those with non-health-related questions or concerns at 1-833-551-0518.

Update: Added information about the MVD.