Coronavirus: Governor limits public gatherings to 5, closes non-essential businesses

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Michelle Lujan Grisham

AZTEC — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced all non-essential businesses must close starting tomorrow to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement comes as New Mexico reaches 83 cases of coronavirus, including cases in one third of the 33 counties.

San Juan County now has three cases of coronavirus. The two new cases announced on March 23 include a woman in her 70s and a man in his 30s.

During a press conference, Lujan Grisham said nine people have been hospitalized in New Mexico, including one Arizona resident. Five of those nine people remain hospitalized. Three people have needed intubation.

The governor has further directed people to stay at home as much as possible, although New Mexicans will still be able to go outside to exercise.

However, Lujan Grisham said people could face penalties if they gather in groups of more than five. For large families, she suggested that maybe three people could go on a walk in the morning and three other family members could walk in the evening.

A sign outside a deserted Farmington Civic Center warns the public to stay home.

She further said that large families should not be going to the stores together. Instead, she said only one or two people from each family should be shopping for groceries.

“I need every New Mexican to do their part,” she said.

The order goes into effect March 24 and will last through April 10.

Here are the businesses that are considered essential businesses:

  • Medical facilities: hospitals, walk-in clinics, emergency veterinarians, pharmacies, medical wholesale and distribution companies, home health care workers and aides for the elderly, emergency dental facilities, nursing homes, residential care facilities, supportive living homes, research facilities, congregate care facilities, intermediate care facilities for people with disabilities, supportive living homes, home health care providers, and medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers
  • Homeless: Homeless shelters, food banks and other services for indigent populations
  • Child care: Facilities that provide child care for people working in essential industries
  • Food suppliers: Grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers markets, vendors selling food, convenience stores and businesses that generate the majority of their revenue from selling food products, including pet food. Feed stores and animal supply stores can remain open. Farms, ranches and other food cultivation, processing and packaging operations are also deemed essential. Logistics and businesses that store, ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences or retailers are also considered essential
Aztec Feed and Supply remains open, Thursday, March 19, 2020, in downtown Aztec.
  • First responders: Police, firefighters, emergency management, dispatch operators and courts
  • Infrastructure operations: Public works construction, commercial and residential construction and maintenance, airport operations, public transportation, airlines, taxis, private transportation providers, nuclear material research and enrichment, road repair and construction, data and internet providers, data centers and telecommunications systems.
  • Oil and natural gas: Drilling, refining and natural resources extraction and mining 
  • Manufacturing operations: Food processing businesses as well as businesses involved in manufacturing of chemicals, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, household paper products, telecommunications, microelectronics/semi-conductor, primary metals manufacturers, machinery manufacturers, electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturers, and transportation equipment manufacturers.
  • Safety and sanitation: Security services, custodians, plumbers, electricians and other skilled trades necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences or essential businesses.
  • Journalism: Newspaper, television and radio operations
  • Automobile: Gas stations and repair facilities as well as stores selling car parts
  • Hardware stores
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Utilities: Electricity, water, wastewater, trash, recycling, gas utilities and their contractors
Farmington's usually-bustling public library was closed March 23, 2020, as were other public facilities.
  • Funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoriums
  • Financial: Banks, credit unions, insurance providers, payroll services, brokerage services, and investment management firms
  • Real estate: Brokers, title companies and related services
  • Mail: Businesses that provide shipping services, including post offices
  • National security: Laboratories and defense and national security-related operations supporting the United States government or its contractors
  • Restaurants: Restaurants can continue to operate by delivery or carry out only
  • Professional services: Businesses like legal and accounting services necessary for legally-mandated activities

While not listed in a press release along with the essential businesses, Lujan Grisham said hotels will be allowed to operate at limited capacity. The order issued on March 23 states the hotels, motels, RV parks and other places that provide temporary lodging can continue to operate at 50% capacity.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at

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