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PED allows limited spectator attendance at some games

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New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart announced Thursday that spectators will be permitted at school-related sports to the extent allowed by the current public health order, under the limits applicable to large entertainment venues.

The extent to which spectators are allowed depends on where individual counties fall in the state’s Red-to-Green COVID risk assessment system. Chaves County is currently at the Yellow Level.

According to a press release issued by the Public Education Department, in Yellow Level counties, “up to 25% capacity for an outdoor spectator area” is all that is currently allowed.

According to the restrictions related to large entertainment venues released by the state on Feb. 24 — when Chaves County moved to the Yellow Level — the limits are “25% of maximum capacity of any outdoor space on premises; indoor not permitted …”

The public health order states the indoor portions of venues can only be entered by patrons, “for the limited purpose of using the restroom or momentarily exiting/entering. Employees may occupy the indoor portion … only to the extent necessary to operate the outdoor portion.”

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The only exceptions noted are for recording or broadcasting entertainment, with no in-person audience.

For other Red-to-Green designations, different levels of attendance are possible, according to the press release from the PED. Schools may allow spectators as follows:

• Turquoise counties: Up to 75% capacity of an outdoor spectator area; up to 33% capacity of an indoor spectator area.

• Green counties: Up to 50% capacity of an outdoor spectator area; up to 25% capacity of an indoor spectator area.

In each case, the host team’s county color governs spectator capacity.

“It makes sense to align student athletics with what’s now permissible in the current public health order,” Stewart said.

Sally Marquez, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association, added, “We are so excited about the opportunity to have spectators at some school sporting events. … We all have something to cheer about.”