A temporary closure order related to COVID-19 cases at the Roswell operations of AerSale Inc. has been rescinded by the state.
A letter dated Tuesday from the Office of the General Counsel for the New Mexico Department of Health stated that the Nov. 6 closure order no longer applies to the type of operations conducted at AerSale, which repairs and maintains large airplanes and modifies and repairs airplane components.
Ann Washburn wrote that the order was rescinded in “light of the revised text of the current New Mexico Public Health Order which clarifies that businesses subject to closure after four rapid responses are ‘those in which members of the public regularly visit.’”
The chairman and chief executive officer of AerSale reiterated that the company and its local facilities at the Roswell Air Center are following safe procedures.
“AerSale conducts routine COVID tests on the personnel working at our Roswell facility, and we meet or exceed all COVID-related state and federal guidelines to keep our employees and the community safe,” said Nicolas Finazzo.
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The original order had stated that AerSale’s operations at 703 E. Challenger Road should close until Nov. 20 because the state had responded to reports of COVID-19 positive tests at the site at least four times from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1.
At that time, Finazzo said work in Roswell was ongoing because the company was recognized as crucial to national infrastructure.
“The operations of AerSale at the Roswell Air Center are deemed by the United States Department of Homeland Security as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure in the transportation sector,” Finazzo said.
According to Health Department and New Mexico Environment Department spokespeople, 14 employees and 53 contract workers at the Roswell site were known to have tested positive.
The two-week closures of businesses were announced by the state Oct. 22 as “targeted” measures aimed at preventing community spread of the coronavirus. State orders allow for the closure of certain categories of businesses that have had four or more rapid response actions within 14 days. Those businesses include food and drink establishments, lodging businesses, retail spaces and essential businesses, excluding health care facilities, utilities or media businesses. The current health order also indicates businesses are allowed to remain open if the state determines that their goods or services are necessary to the community.
Rapid Responses are when teams from the Environment Department work with businesses reporting COVID-19 positive tests at their sites. The response typically involves isolation and quarantining of affected employees, contact tracing, and cleaning and sanitizing of facilities.
The state’s 14-day closure orders have resulted in at least two lawsuits, a federal case filed by Illinois-based Stampede Meat Inc. concerning its Sunland Park plant in Doña Ana County and a state district court lawsuit filed by Deming Manufactured Homes LLC of Luna County.
Marisa Maez, communications director for the Health Department, said, “The state has effectively stayed enforcement of the notices of closure for those businesses pending the outcome of negotiations.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, 22 businesses in New Mexico are under state closure orders, according to the New Mexico Environment Department website.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.
To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.