Restaurateurs were hoping to hear Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham say they could reopen Friday for sit-down dining when she called the New Mexico Restaurant Association for a Zoom and Facebook Live talk Tuesday afternoon.
They didn’t get it.
“People are unhappy,” restaurant association CEO Carol Wight said on Zoom. “We didn’t get a date.”
Some 500 people in the restaurant industry tuned in.
Lujan Grisham’s current public health order with widespread business closures runs through Friday, but the governor made no mention of reopening restaurants in her address and was noncommittal when questioned about reopening.
“I have to consider the public safety issue,” Lujan Grisham said. “We will get back to you with a decision.”
Lujan Grisham has scheduled another briefing at 4 p.m. Wednesday on her Facebook page to discuss public health orders, according to a news release.
But on Tuesday, she focused on potential proposals to assist the restaurant industry.
“I am committed to find different economic support packages,” Lujan Grisham said. “We are identifying a potential tax relief strategy. If you have ideas, we want to hear them.”
She said she is considering having the state purchase personal protective equipment and deliver it to restaurants.
“I think that is something we have to be open to,” she said.
Lujan Grisham said in the second week of June, she expects to have state programs to invest in economic recovery for specific industries, including restaurants.
Asked later about the issue, Governor’s Office spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said, “Relief would be considered for any and all industries broadly affected by this pandemic. Legislative leadership would play a key role in deciding any of that.”
Restaurateurs have said they are hoping to be able to sell alcohol curbside and deliver alcohol, but that’s prohibited by state law. Lujan Grisham said only the Legislature can change the state statute.
“We want to do everything we can to lift you up and hold you up,” the governor said. “I want to find the safest way forward.”