ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Just about a month after getting the go-ahead to have indoor dining at half capacity, restaurants are going to have to adjust again. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s amended health order, starting Monday, July 13, restaurants will no longer be allowed to have indoor dining. Curbside pick up and outdoor dining at 50% capacity are still allowed.
The amended order comes as New Mexico’s coronavirus cases continue to climb and the state is no longer in the ‘green’ zone for re-opening. According to Doctor David Scrase, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Human Services Department and the doctor guiding the state through the pandemic, the daily number of cases is up 79% from a few weeks ago.
Even before the governor gave the announcement Thursday, restaurants were expecting the news. It didn’t make it hurt any less.
“It’s going to be devastating for our employees, too. Because we called them all back, called a lot of them back to work, and they were glad to get back to work, but if we have to lay them off again…it’s not going to work well for them,” Ray Trombino, owner of Trombino’s Bistro Italiano, said.
He said they did survive when restrictions allowed curbside and delivery only, but need indoor dining to see sustainable numbers. Trombino is now figuring out how to make it through another wave of restrictions.
“We really don’t want to put a tent in the parking lot. I don’t think I’d want to sit in the parking lot to have dinner, but if we have to, we’ll do that,” he said.
The general manager of 5 Star Burger said he understands the health risks of COVID-19 but said a second closure could ‘hurt badly.’ He said he wishes there was a better solution that doesn’t hurt small businesses.
Jean Bernstein is the CEO and Owner of Fly Star and Satellite Coffee. She calls a second closure “close to fatal” for the restaurant industry. She also said for the most part, restaurants are following guideliens and that the growing virus, she believes, isn’t coming from this industry.
The Governor also commenting on this, saying “Businesses in and of themselves aren’t creating the risks, people are. And as a result of those behaviors, we have to restrict your access because I can’t manage for New Mexicans whose lives we’re working to save…restaurants did not do this to New Mexico, New Mexicans did this to restaurants.”
People in the community have mixed feelings on the new restrictions.
“I think it’s okay that the indoor dining closes down and stuff, because that’s the problem, is the circulation through the air,” one Albuquerque resident said.
“I don’t think its good for anybody that it gets taken away. I just think if everybody adheres to the guidelines and does things appropriately I don’t think it’s going to be a risk,” Sandra Hildebrand, another community member, said. “I think we need to keep moving forward and not back pedal into a situation we were in before.”