Home News COVID-19 Situation Businesses support ‘reopening’ resolutions

Businesses support ‘reopening’ resolutions

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Lisa Dunlap Photo Sheriff Mike Herrington talks with county commissioners T. Calder Ezzell, left, and Will Cavin after a Friday meeting. Herrington has been meeting with businesses for the past week and, in some instances, giving them letters supporting their reopening.

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Chaves County businesses and individuals, including a few medical professionals, have supplied letters to support county and city of Roswell resolutions that state that all businesses are crucial.

Meanwhile, Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington is meeting with business owners facing crises and issuing letters signifying them as “essential” to allow them to reopen, provided that they can do so safely.

“One thing I am making very clear is that I am working with the governor’s guidelines, being safe, having the businesses following social distancing and stuff like that,” said Herrington. “We are not being defiant. We are doing something that is necessary. In our section of the state, we don’t have the outbreak that they are having in the northwest part of the state. I believe we should be allowed to do different things than they are.”

He said that he has met with about 35 business owners and issued about 25 letters giving his office’s support for their reopening. He added that most of those 25 probably do not need a letter from him now, given that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday that state orders would be relaxed a bit starting Friday to allow some businesses previously considered “non-essential” to reopen, at least in a limited way.

He said he made the decision to issue letters if people were facing severe circumstances, such as not being able to pay business loans or mortgages. He also said that he did not write letters for some businesses and nonprofits, such as a sporting league and a large event venue.

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His actions follow the April 23 county resolution asking the governor to let businesses here reopen. A city resolution passed Monday indicates that current closures are having a tremendous impact on businesses and government, and states that all businesses are crucial.

When asked whether businesses can reopen because of the resolutions, Nora Sackett, deputy press secretary for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, said, “State public health orders are law. County resolutions are not.”

To support its position, Chaves County commissioners after voting to pass its resolution encouraged businesses to submit letters to send to the governor’s office.

The letters received by Chaves County managers were then given to area legislators to provide along with the county and city resolutions when they hand-delivered those to Santa Fe on Wednesday.

The county also expects to forward its resolution and the letters to the White House.

The support letters came from large local employers, as well as owners of medical practices, a restaurant, a hair salon, retail stores and charter bus services.

Krumland Auto Group, which has about 300 staff members, said it has not yet laid anyone off but might have to unless it is allowed to offer its products and services.

“We can follow guidelines to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19,” Tom Krumland wrote. “Just tell us what those guidelines are and let us help our great nation get back to work and on its feet.”

One company owner indicated that even though his business is allowed to operate as an “essential” business, he is still seeing the negative effects of the business shutdown.

“Yes, we have been busy, however, they are many people who are not working right now that (have) had plumbing issues,” wrote Jack Ferguson of Fergie’s Plumbing and Heating. “… The issue being the fact that people have not always been able to pay their bill when the work is completed.”

But, he said, the larger issue is that “people are hurting and people are on the verge of going hungry. … We are a proud people and we just want to be able to work and support our families just as we (were) before all this took place.”

About 16 counties in New Mexico and several cities have passed “reopening resolutions,” and county officials think that has helped lead to the modifications that Lujan Grisham announced Thursday to take effect Friday.

Although stay-at-home orders remain in effect until May 15 to urge people to limit contact with others as much as possible, curbside and delivery operations for most retail operations, not just those previously deemed essential, are allowed for services and products permitted by their licenses.

Veterinarians and pet care businesses also can operate, with gun stores able to do business by appointment. Golf courses can reopen for golf only, and state parks can open for limited day-use purposes.

“This public health crisis has also become an economic emergency,” she said. “And there is great urgency to be able to address both, and we believe we can safely and productively do that.”

She also said that additional openings for hotels, salons, gyms and restaurants — with restrictions on occupancy levels — might be able to occur by mid-May. She said those reopenings can occur only if people continue to practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings and take other measures, including wearing face masks in public, so that the infection rate stays low on a statewide basis.

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