New Mexico Gov. reinstates indoor masking, broadens COVID-19 vaccine mandates
DEMING – With COVID-19 cases again rising in New Mexico, vaccinations slowing in pace and the hospital system under strain, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced emergency public health orders Tuesday reinstating indoor mask requirements and broadening vaccine mandates for some workers.
Beginning Friday, all persons age 2 and up will be required to wear a face covering indoors in public settings unless eating or drinking, regardless of vaccination status. The order will remain in effect through Sept. 15.
The order grants an exception when "a healthcare provider instructs otherwise" but does not detail how that would be documented or verified.
Starting Monday, Aug. 23, workers at private and public schools in New Mexico, including charters, will need to document that they have been vaccinated or submit a negative COVID-19 test every week and continue to mask up, according to a separate public health order executed Tuesday.
Schools will be required to maintain confidential records of employees' vaccination status for the state Department of Health's review.
Absent an exemption, similar mandates apply to hospital staff including contractors, workers in congregate care facilities, and employees at the governor's office. A requirement for vaccination or regular testing was announced for state government employees in an executive order last month.
Under the new order, a first dose of vaccine is required within 10 days, and a second dose for vaccines requiring a booster within 40 days.
Under federal law, those workers may seek protected exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
Proof of vaccine or of a qualifying exemption will also be required for attendance at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque next month under the order, and those with the exemption will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than 48 hours old.
Lujan Grisham is scheduled to give a news conference on the public health orders Tuesday at 3 p.m.
The pace of vaccinations in New Mexico has slowed after an initial rollout that temporarily led the country. As of Monday, 66 percent of New Mexico adults were fully vaccinated, and more than 42 percent of minors between the ages of 12 and 17.
Read both of the new public health orders here: