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State warns restaurants about dine-in service

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The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is notifying the restaurant industry that it has suspended food permits of two restaurants in other counties that were allowing dine-in service.

The state department issued a release Friday saying that restaurants that allow dine-in service at a time when state public health orders prohibit the practice are in violation of the Food Service and Sanitation Act.

The statement indicated that the “Food Service and Sanitation Act (NMSA 1978, Section 25-1-9) authorizes NMED to immediately suspend a permit if ‘conditions within a food service establishment present a substantial danger of illness, serious physical harm or death to consumers who might patronize the food service establishment.’”

The restaurants affected were in Silver City and Ruidoso and could face legal action if they do not cease indoor food service, the Environment Department indicated. They can reapply for food permits if they correct the problems.

“When any business presents an imminent risk to public health or the environment, the department will not hesitate to use all of its authorities to protect New Mexicans,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “Unlike these two businesses, the vast majority of restaurants are operating in compliance and protecting public health from the threat of COVID-19.”

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