Mandatory lockdown quiets city of Gallup amid coronavirus pandemic
GALLUP – Motorists driving toward Gallup on northbound U.S. Highway 491 were greeted with flashing lights from New Mexico State Police units as the city remained under a mandatory lockdown authorized earlier in the day by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The city entered the lockdown at noon on May 1, after Lujan Grisham invoked the state's Riot Control Act to further restrict movement to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Gallup is in McKinley County, which leads the state in COVID-19 cases at 1,064. The neighboring Navajo Nation saw the number of positive cases rise to more than 2,000 this week.
Governor issued measures at request of local officials
To address the situation, former Gallup Mayor Jackie McKinney and recently sworn-in Mayor Louis Bonaguidi requested the governor to declare a state of emergency.
The May 1 executive order placed the city in a lockdown from noon on May 1 to noon on May 4.
Under the executive order, all businesses must close from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. during the specified dates and all roads to the city are closed with an exception for residents and individuals who work in the city.
The order states vehicles may only be occupied by two people and residents should remain home unless for emergency travel that involves health, safety and welfare.
State police officers and the New Mexico National Guard had a checkpoint set up on U.S. Highway 491, an entry point to the city's northside.
Additional checkpoints were arranged on highways and exit ramps from Interstate 40.
Officers from the Gallup Police Department were observed patrolling the normally busy highway 491 corridor, where businesses such as Safeway, Auto Zone, Starbucks, McDonald's and Safeway are located.
Normally, a Friday night in Gallup means seeing countless headlights moving along U.S. Route 66.
The view from one of the city's overpasses serves as reassurance that the old highway still has meaning to the city, but not tonight.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at email@example.com.
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