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AZTEC — Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett is asking Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to allow businesses to reopen immediately with 20% occupancy.

He declared a local economic emergency on April 15 due to the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Unfortunately this public health crisis has now lead to an economic crisis," Duckett said in a video message.

The emergency order highlighted that closing businesses has led to the highest levels of unemployment in New Mexico's history, which it states will lead to higher poverty rates and negative outcomes for families and children.

"This is by no means a perfect plan, but it is a conversation starter that I believe every mayor in the state of New Mexico needs to start having with the governor's office to ensure we can get our economy up and running sooner rather than later, but do it safely and in conversation with healthcare providers and experts across the state," Duckett said.

But it is unlikely that Lujan Grisham will relax restrictions, especially in San Juan County where there have been high numbers of coronavirus cases.

“Mayor Duckett is or should be well aware that the county in which his city is situated has one of the fastest-growing rates of COVID-19 in the state,” said Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, in an email. “It would be unconscionable that anyone — be they a public figure or not — would be advocating for an easing of the absolutely essential imperative and need to stay home right now, and especially so given the situation of the northwest region of the state. Any re-openings at this point in time, even limited ones, will unequivocally lead to a gravely enhanced transmission of the virus, meaning more illness, meaning more death, and meaning our state's hospital and health care capacity would be at even greater risk.”

More: New Mexico Republicans, Democrats spar on business restrictions amid coronavirus pandemic

Duckett's declaration came days after the state Republican Party called for relaxation of the restrictions placed on businesses. During a press conference, Republicans said small businesses have been disproportionately hit by the restrictions and may not recover.

However, the declaration issued April 15 also praises some of the governor's actions.

"Gov. Lujan Grisham should be commended for exhibiting decisive leadership in the face of a public health emergency by educating New Mexicans on their role to flatten the curve and protect the integrity of our health care system through social distancing, preventative hygiene practices and the stay at home order," the declaration states.

The Farmington City Council will ratify the declaration during its next meeting.

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

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