On Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued new restrictive health orders for the state, which included a restriction for restaurants to only be allowed to serve customers outside and at 50% capacity — a crippling blow to the industry, according to New Mexico Restaurant Associaton CEO Carol Wight.
Wight estimated that about 700 restaurants (or 20%) will be forced into permanent closure, with little to no safety net to catch the newly restricted businesses. 200 restaurants have already closed for good since the start of Lujan Grisham’s lockdown. “She doesn’t have the latest number but estimates New Mexico will lose 20% of its restaurants – or 700 restaurants – with the new regulations in place,” reports KOB 4. Wight also said “Restaurants aren’t where COVID is being spread. We’re just not the problem, and [Michelle Lujan Grisham] punishing us for it.”
Another startling point Wight revealed was that Gov. Lujan Grisham never even took the time to speak to the restaurant industry before closing it down. “My board is putting together a letter to ask her to sit down with us and really think this out because she never did talk to the industry about this,” she said.
Now restaurateurs are being forced into a panic, as they previously were allowed to get back to work on June 1st, meaning they had hired back members of their staff and begun regular shipments of food and supplies to their establishments.
According to Carol Wight, it is going to be much harder on restaurants than the previous lockdown. “Last time we had PPP money, we had ways to get open, we had some savings left. We have no more savings,” she said. “Our inventory – we’ve got fresh inventory right now we’ve got to get through and three days is not enough. So what are we going to do, right? We’re all just throwing our hands up saying, ‘What can we do?’”
Lujan Grisham’s latest set of lockdowns includes a 14-day mandatory quarantine for out-of-state visitors, which is already negatively affecting the hotel industry. Joe Schepps, president of Santa Fe’s Inn on the Alameda said, “We had 157 room night cancellations in the 36 hours after the governor’s announcement.”
Jeff Mahan, executive director of the Santa Fe Lodgers Association blasted the Governor’s lockdown, with a similar criticism to Carol Wight’s of the NM Restaurant Association. “Why are you bringing an entire industry down to its knees?” said Mahan. “The data doesn’t justify such a severe 14-day quarantine.”