Planning a return to 'new normal' life in Ruidoso
Mayor would like to reopen some places by next week
- Village is buying PPE to ensure availability to businesses if local sources are sold out
- Employees who refuse to come back to a job could be terminated from the unemployment rolls
Residents and business owners were not alone in wishing to reopen the Village of Ruidoso. Mayor Lynn Crawford said he would like to open at least a places either by this weekend or the next.
In preparation for reopening Ruidoso businesses and seeing a return to more normal life in the village, Crawford said he worked for the past few weeks on opening plans in conjunction with state and local representatives.
"Rather than fight or flight like some communities are doing, we have worked with local businesses, the (Ruidoso Downs) race track, the (Lincoln County Medical Center) hospital, the (Mescalero Apache) Tribe, surrounding communities and the county on what (reopening) would look like, to come up with a unified plan to put out to the governor's office so that we can open," Crawford said Tuesday. "We've just about finalized it. We have been working with the economic council the governor appointed.
"We've been in constant contact with (business owners)so that when we have a plan, the businesses understand the guidelines and we can actually help them with opening and operating safely, protecting their employees and the people coming in."
The plan is broken into phases, Crawford said.
"We're already in Phase One," he said. Phase Two is the big transition still in flux and Phase Three will be when the village is completely open back up to the new normal, he said.
"The Village has put in buys for PPE (personal protective equipment) so the local businesses still will be able to get masks and things like that, because most of our places are sold out," Crawford said. The supplies would be offered at cost, he said.
The only plan of some business owners he spoke to was to turn on their signs and open the doors, the mayor said. But it will require much more, he said. Luring employees back to their jobs may be difficult when some will be collecting more money from the government being unemployed.
Crawford said he was advised by a state labor official that if former employees are offered their old jobs and they refuse, they can be terminated off the COVID-19 unemployment list. If they contend they are afraid of virus, that's why having a reopening plan is so important, the mayor said.
"If you have a plan to show you are safe and preparing the employees and the work space to be as safe as possible," the return to work requirement can be enforced, he said. "It just gets people off the dole, because most people want to go back. Most of the employees I talk to are sick and tired of being cooped up. They love their families, but they are about to choke each other out."
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Reopening the golf courses, trails and the lakes is a big priority, he said.
"We're not going to be putting it out on billboards or radio spots all over Texas and Oklahoma," Crawford said. "We are going to open locally so that our citizens can get out and we can start getting practice on what the new normals are going to look like, how to operate so that our employees are trained and getting used to social distancing.
"While we do that, mark my words because it is the truth, we will have more (COVID-19) cases. We know that. But what we have done is work ourselves into a position where we will have better control with what the hospital can handle and their people can do."
Working with the state
"We're asking for a partnership with the governor," Crawford said.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed him to Mayor's Council composed of 10 mayors across the state, and village staff is communicating directly with the economic advisory council, the governor's cabinet and her staff on Ruidoso's plans, Crawford said.
"It looks like we're going to have a county by county plan. That's what they are looking for - a plan. I don't want to tell our people we're opening up and we do it and the state shows up like they did in Grants (Monday) and hand out a bunch of cease and decease orders, and coming back with fines and filing a lawsuit," he said.
"That's not what we are about. We understand how this virus works and it is deadly and we have those among us very susceptible and we tell them to stay home. If your need groceries and you don't have family or friends, call the village. We will make a run for you and do what we need to do for you, but keep yourself safe and at home."
Dianne Stallings can be contacted at email@example.com. This coverage only is possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a subscription to the Ruidoso News.