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Commissioners consider asking governor to reopen businesses


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The Chaves County Board of Commissioners is considering a resolution that recommends that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham allow businesses here to reopen.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for 9 a.m. Thursday to consider that resolution. Given current state orders requiring social distancing and limited gatherings, the meeting will occur live on Facebook, with members of the public able to participate during the public comment period via Facebook.

“They (commissioners) have been getting quite a lot of questions about this,” said County Manager Stanton Riggs. “Their constituents are asking about this.”

He said other counties and cities in the state already have passed resolutions or intend to do so, but Chaves County drew up its own proposed resolution that states, in part, “an economic disaster has been created by defining ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ businesses, which unjustly dictates winners and losers by discriminating against small businesses and specialized retailers.”

Riggs talked about liquor stores, which have been deemed “non-essential” and closed by a state public health order until at least April 30. Riggs said that because the order still allows alcohol sales elsewhere, such as grocery stories and convenience stores, the order is disproportionately affecting business owners with smaller operations.

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He said that the county government continues to operate, although its buildings are closed to the public except by appointment, for the most part. While the county does not have the authority to overrule state orders regarding businesses, it is asking the state to reconsider the effects of the closures, both because of what it is doing to businesses, and in light of what the resolution indicates are different impacts of the coronavirus situation on different counties and cities in New Mexico.

Chaves County has recorded 21 of the state’s 2,072 cases and one of its 65 deaths, according to Tuesday afternoon data released by the New Mexico Department of Health.

The resolution being considered by commissioners indicates that “social distancing and other mitigation measures” would be implemented to reduce health risks.

Riggs said, for example, that businesses might have to use face masks, monitor employees for symptoms and adopt other measures deemed necessary to prevent contagion.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.


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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.