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New Mexico State Police to enforce ‘non-essential’ business closures

Local police departments to assist ‘as needed’

FARMINGTON – After closing nonessential businesses, New Mexico is now considering how to enforce the order. In doing so, the state is better defining what are “essential” and “nonessential” businesses.

When New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered all nonessential businesses to close by 8 a.m. Tuesday, she emphasized violators could lose their licenses and face civil or criminal penalties. She said the state would rely on the public to report nonessential businesses in violation of the state order.

“All noncompliance complaints are to be sent to New Mexico State Police,” said Nicole Brown, spokeswoman for the Farmington Police Department.

The New Mexico State Police is asking for all complaints of noncompliance to be sent to NMSP.COVID19@state.nm.us or contact the nonemergency COVID-19 hotline at (833) 551-0518, Option 2.

“The core mission of the New Mexico State Police is to ensure the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of New Mexico,” said state police Chief Tim Johnson. “We are committed to doing just that by ensuring New Mexicans adhere to this public health emergency order.”

If a business is noncompliant and refuses to close after an initial warning, the State Police said establishments would face civil fines or criminal charges.

Brown added the State Police would be “working with other law enforcement agencies as needed for enforcement.” But the Farmington Police Department has not been asked to assist the State Police with any enforcement actions to date, Brown said.

As of Thursday afternoon, New Mexico was reporting 136 cases, and San Juan County had six additional cases, bringing its total to 14 positive COVID-19 cases.

With the number of positive cases growing, Brown said Farmington officers had been issued addition personal protective equipment and are being encouraged to practice physical distancing as much as possible. The Farmington Police Department also decided to close the records lobby to walk-ins.

“Our officers are still out patrolling, and responding to calls for service, and physical distancing isn’t always feasible, so we are monitoring exposures and disinfecting as much as possible,” Brown said.

The San Juan County Communications Authority said if businesses are unsure if they fall within the nonessential business category they can email the State Police at NMSP.COVID19@state.nm.us.

“Please understand that we do have a limited number of incoming phone lines, and when you call to ask questions, you may be preventing someone in a life-or-death emergency from reaching us,” the authority said.


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