May 26, 2020

State will allow outdoor dining at restaurants in most of state starting Wednesday, with some restrictions

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Restaurants in much of the state can serve patrons for outdoor dining—with some restrictions—starting Wednesday.

Restaurants in Cibola, San Juan and McKinley counties are not included in the new lifting of patio dining restrictions. The state cited the fact that the northwest region has been hit hard by the virus. The New Mexico Restaurant Association asked that restaurants in Doña Ana County wait until June 1 to open for outdoor dining.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced late Tuesday that she amended the public health order to allow restaurants in most counties to begin serving patrons in outdoor patio dining areas but the outdoor dining can not be larger than 50 percent of the restaurant’s fire code occupancy. Additional rules include:

  • No indoor dining
  • Service may be provided to patrons who are seated in the outdoor area
  • Tables must be placed with at least six feet of distance between one another
  • No more than six patrons may be seated at any single table
  • No bar or counter seating is permitted

The state said in its public announcement that state health officials continue to monitor the rate of transmission in the state’s southwest region and if the virus is unchecked, that “could preclude further reopenings in that region.”

New Mexico Restaurant Association chief executive, Carol Wight, cited the spike in cases in Doña Ana County, when asking restaurateurs in the county to delay serving in outdoor areas.

“The rate of transmission is considerably higher in this area and in order for everyone to be able to safely reopen soon, the NMRA would like restaurants in this area to forgo the May 27 date and work hard to slow the spread for the June 1 reopening of our industry,” Wight said in a statement.

Anaheim Jacks, which lost its permit to serve last week when it reopened its outdoor dining in Ruidoso, will not be allowed to reopen now, said governor spokesperson Nora Meyers Sackett. 

“The amended order has no impact on a restaurant that has already operated in repeated flagrant violation of the state’s emergency public health order and has lost its license to serve food. The state’s revocation of its license remains unchanged,” she wrote in an email.

Bars – defined in New Mexico as food and beverage service establishments that derived more than 50 percent of their revenue in the prior calendar year from the sale of alcoholic beverages – are not included in the state’s provision and may not operate outdoor or patio services at present. Bars may continue to operate for take-out and delivery if permitted under their applicable licenses.

To help with contact tracing, the state is also requiring restaurants to offer customers the opportunity to record their names and phone numbers or email addresses, along with the date and time of their visit. The restaurant will be required to retain such records for up to four weeks from the date of collection.

The state provided COVID-safe practices for restaurants and  expects restaurants to adhere to the practices under broader reopening that could take place early next week when the current emergency public health order is set to expire.