The relief, while not total, was palpable.

“We are so excited,” said businessman Mark Suleiman, who owns Diva Diamonds and Jewels in Santa Fe and manages several other shops in the downtown area.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s decision to allow retailers to reopen at reduced customer capacity was met with open arms by many New Mexico store owners late Wednesday afternoon. Suleiman was so hopeful relief was on the way that his workers had been preparing for Saturday’s reopening since Monday.

“We were basically cleaning the jewelry,” Suleiman said. “We kept all our employees on salary [since closing in March].”

As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, Lujan Grisham has been under increasing pressure to reopen New Mexico businesses, many shuttered since March as the state grapples with a near-dormant economy amid the backdrop of a massive public health emergency. But during a Facebook news conference Wednesday, the governor said retailers could open at 25 percent of their fire code capacity on Saturday, with so-called big-box stores remaining at 20 percent.

However, the joy was not universal because not everything will open: Dine-in restaurants, hair salons, gyms, movie theaters and malls — what the governor termed as “high-intensity contact” businesses — will remain closed until at least early June.

“The risks are too high,” Lujan Grisham said of dine-in service, though she later added, “We believe we can have limited occupancy at restaurants in early June.”

Reopening for dine-in will be based on the rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus, plus testing and a host of other metrics, Lujan Grisham said.

Several Santa Fe restaurants were banking on a May 15 restart, and the news they would have to wait until June disappointed many.

“She said May 15 before and some restaurants planned on that,” said George Gundrey, who owns the popular Tomasita’s restaurants in Santa Fe and Albuquerque as well as Atrisco Cafe & Bar. “I’m very disappointed. What else is there to say?”

Gundrey said the two Tomasita’s are doing 20 percent of their normal business with curbside and takeout service, with only 20 percent of their employees working.

“Disappointing is the lack of clarity, early June,” Gundrey said. “She’s moving the goalposts. It’s going to be devastating for the Santa Fe economy and workforce.”

Iconik Coffee Roasters owner Sean Ham agreed many restaurants were gearing toward a Friday reopening at 20 percent capacity, with many planning on rehiring staff and ordering food and supplies.

“Now we all have to retool and reformat,” Ham said. “It makes it impossible for people to plan because we planned to reopen May 15. The cascading effects of this are far-reaching.”

But Ann Ferragamo, who is working solo at her Thai Café & Noodle Treats, called Lujan Grisham’s decision “reasonable and practical.”

Though Ferragamo said she initially lost 70 percent of her revenue early in the crisis, she’s recovered to the point where she’s now bringing in 75 percent of her normal business.

“I’m OK,” Ferragamo said. “I’m just lucky to have my customers. I’m OK with takeout.”

Early on, curbside and delivery service at Cowgirl Santa Fe was 90 percent down from the revenue the restaurant had projected had it been fully operational.

“Now we are at 80 percent off our projection,” owner Patrick Lambert said. “I think it’s a good idea to keep it safe and be conservative with it. It’s a risky position to put everybody in [to reopen now].”

Lambert said Cowgirl, which has 18 of its usual 40 employees working, likely will have to rethink its entire business model — at least for the short term — even after restaurants get back in the game. He said he believes live music and kids moving around freely likely won’t be part of any initial opening.

“Phase one: No music, no standing, no pool hall, no kids court,” Lambert said. “That’s a different paradigm for us. We are about social contact, not social distance.”

Lino Pertusini has no takeout at his Osteria d’Assisi in downtown Santa Fe, but he is serving some Osteria dishes at his Pizzeria Da Lino. Combining dishes at both establishments at the pizzeria has allowed him to achieve 100 percent normal revenue at Pizzeria Da Lino, he said.

Still, every day is a tough one.

“Early June, that’s a long way away,” Pertusini said.

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(43) comments

Tom Hyland

I just watched a highly informative video produced by a woman named Peggy Hall of Orange County, who has read the laws that define what an "emergency" is, and has valuable information that is identical to every state. She's already sent this to her local county and state representatives and she suggests others do the same. I went to the New Mexico Department of Health website and informed them of this video. The entire piece is about 15 minutes long. There are laws in place, in every state, that have been soundly ignored and violated regarding what is an emergency. Don't attack this message without watching the video. Watch it and hopefully you will forward this far and wide.

Orlie Romero

Quit changing the rules as we go, people be responsible for yourselves. If your sick or old stay home, if not do what you may, this whole ordeal is fake. Wake up people

DJ Lake

If people followed the rules it wouldn't spread. Yea wake up and stay home.

Jim Klukkert


Felice Cohen

Yep, just follow orders. We've heard it before and if MLG has her way, she will keep NM closed until, after the election, at a minimum.

Jim Klukkert

Felice Cohen~ Yep, no one has any responsibility to follow orders, lawful Public Health Orders.

While we are at it. let's toss out speed limits, they're no fun; time and a half for over 40 hours/week of work; heck let's really bring labor costs down by tossing child labor laws, they'll work hard if we whip them.

Frankly, I am tired of the orders that ban discrimination against religious and ethnic groups. One of those ethnic/religous groups is running the international banking system, and that's not fair!

Yep, no more orders! We will have much more fun that way!

NOT SO. THAT WAY LIES MADNESS AND ANARCHY. Civilization is a thin veneer, but without it we live in Locke's state of Warre, every one against every one else.

John Onstad


There are 2,100,000 people in NM. If masks come in a 10-pack and everyone goes to the store, that's over 20 million masks needed to comply with the Governor's dictate.

I've heard that masks are already in very short supply.

don't know what our half-pint dictator was thinking.


DJ Lake

Wear a mask. This is not the flu. Stay away from humans if you don't have a mask.

Jim Klukkert


Orlie Romero

Instead be responsible, stay home if your sick or scared.

Jim Klukkert


DG Citizen

Yep vote her out.

Ed Li

The governor has never guaranteed a reopen date for restaurants. She has always made it quite clear from the get go that these restrictions can and may be extended if needed. She has also stated that she will be reopening in phases with limited capacity. This has been the plan from the beginning. It is on the business owners that betted foolishly on a May 15 opening and didn’t get it. These folks just want someone to blame other than themselves for not trying to think out of the box as other similar businesses/restaurants have done who have managed to keep their business afloat with new services such as curbside pickup or delivery. Regardless if these establishments open back up there are still going to be a lot of people, such as myself, electing not to go out. You irrational thinking people want to blame or be mad at something? Blame that virus that has infected and killed many people around the planet. Your alarming complacency could always make you or your loved ones its next victim.

Felice Cohen

Blame, this is America where people have freedom as guaranteed by the Consititution. The Blame for this debacle is China, that is fact. You stay home, you close your business, You can go on welfare or food stamps, but some folks in this State, actually want to work and support their families, I wouldn't call that "betting foolishly." I call it Liberty!

Jim Klukkert

Felice Cohen~ Liberty or Death, so it was said. That's a fine choice for you perhaps, but when you head down that dark road, don't share the virus or your troubles with any one else, particularly with the health care providers, some of whom die to save others. Your folly and foolishness should be borne by you and you alone!

Beyond that, your suggestion that all persons of other opinions want to 'go on welfare or food stamps' is as ludicrous as it is insulting to all working people.

To blame China for the Pandemic is only to refuse discussion of the Frump Administration's many mistakes. Good choice for you, as that topic is not moving your agenda forward.

The only truth that you seem to grasp is that 'folks in this State, actually want to work and support their families.' Of course even then you underestimate your fellow citizens when you say 'some.'

For all of this, you know you find yourself a minority opinion in this great state.

kyle renfro

there is no rhyme or reason, scatterbrain mlg picks whats she wants and tries to justify and interpret the data to meet her thought process. Any competent cabinet members have left or will leave the MLG TITANIC. In the end there will just be egolf, and Jim klukkert who would drive from his houes in Rio Rancho to lick her shoes, without his mask, if he could

Jim Klukkert

There is no egolf (but there is a shift key), there is no klukkert (but ditto), never have owned a houes, wrong Rancho dude, never licked a shoe (novel idea, do you like shoes that much?) and I wear my N95 mask as per best practices. (Ever heard that phrase?)

One sentence from you, but so many errors!

I do compliment you on your improved capitalization skills, keep at it![beam]

David Markun

This has become partisan: on the right you have business owners and employees who live paycheck to paycheck and on the left you have a more wealthy, privileged class who are less focused on the here and now economic repercussions. Bottom line: if the economy does not reopen soon, there will be no meaningful world to go back to even if you survive the virus. No one can predict all sorts of contingencies so its balancing two competing interets. I dont think the Gov. has gone far enough looking after all New Mexicans.

Arnold Mayberg

Business owners are feeling the pain, at the moment employees are doing pretty good on unemployment where they get a weekly check and an extra $600 per week from the fed. If there employer goes out of business that would not be good for anyone in the long run.

Dr. Michael Johnson

Astute observations. My opinion is the tiny tyrant knows exactly what she is doing, who she is targeting, and who is being punished most harshly. Her plan is to cripple private businesses, so that more and more people are dependent on government, i.e. her and the left wing Roundhouse, to dole out the money to the peasants. For obvious reasons. It's the romantic in me......

Jim Klukkert

Re-opening New Mexico will be best accomplished by calm folks acting for our collective best interests guided by the best scientific and medical advice, who speak in a civil tone, and avoid such phrases as ‘Tiny Tyrant.”

Those Opportunists only who want to score political points by raging, whose intent is either to divide us and further confuse the issues, will ultimately be frustrated.

Micheal, you are wasting your talents and skills in a destructive path. I believe you are capable of great contributions. Please rephrase your criticisms for positive rather than negative impact.


Jim Klukkert

David Markun~ Your comment grossly over simplifies the divide of this great debate.

There are those who live in areas so far unaffected by the Pandemic, who with some justification, fear the Shutdown is just the latest nail through the heart of the rural economy, culture and Small Town America. This understandable fear drives many to oppose the Shutdown.

These good folks are joined by Political Opportunists who are seizing the Re-Open Issue for their own agenda, and Public Health be damned! Many of these are Republican Frumpsters seeking to build an issue which might yet save the Serial-Predator-In-Chief and his party of minions from certain electoral defeat this November.

A careful, data driven Re-Opening, informed by the best of scientific knowledge is driven by the certainty that Economic Security cannot be obtained at the cost of Public Health. Sick and Dead people are really lousy at contributing to the Economy!

You cannot substantiate your charge that we are the more wealthy & privileged. Our ranks include retail, grocery, gig and restaurant workers, as well as marginalized communities & family businesses, universally opposed to working conditions that put our health at risk. Meat-packers deserve special mention as their personal suffering is acute, and will be multiplied: farmers lose the ability to market their livestock; and meat prices soar even as many more are suffer hunger. A Healthy Re-opening is clearly a Working Peoples Issue!

The democratic left, led in part by Bernie Sanders, has long championed the rights and interests of workers and farmers, and yes, small business. We know that Public Health and Worker Safety issues have not BECOME PARTISAN, but for many years they have been one front of the WAR ON THE POOR waged by the one percent, fought behind the Faux News Fog of misinformation for the benefit of the ownership class.

Democratic socialists understand that the rule makers are likely city-dwellers who are not working class, so we are not surprised that their Public Health Orders, though well intended, are too often a poor fit for rural or working people. We need to advocate for better regulations, and a better approach to issues of rural life, rather than burn down the house.

We will find a meaningful world once we return to a more open environment; that is the very nature of humanity, to find meaning in what we have. In fact, the enlightened choice is to find a meaning on the path to recovery. I am resolved to this perspective as the only viable choice.

Stefanie Beninato

The goal posts are moving because the coronavirus is not cooperating. It still is taking the lives of over 100 New Mexicans every day--two days ago there were 137 cases in S Juan and McKinley counties in that one day. And can you really operate on a 25 percent capacity?

Maxwell Vertical

Santa Fe County is not McKinley or San Juan.

Mark Andrew

Where do you think everyone from locked down counties are going to go shop? Bernalillo County, Sandoval County, Santa Fe County? Whats frustrating is we could've comprehensively nipped this in the bud, not just as a state but as a country. Instead our inaction and the whining of folks has forced a gradual opening and economic recovery that could have been the "V" we were hoping for into a "U". Maybe even an "L" at this point. We could have seriously put the infection rate below 1, but we've failed to do so and will likely continue to fail. Get ready for rolling shutdowns because we missed our chance to have a single, yes harsh - but single, massive shutdown.

Maxwell Vertical

Santa Fe County has had only 37 “new cases” in 28 days. That’s an average of only 1.3 new cases a day in a county of 150,000+ people.

Dr. Michael Johnson

"It still is taking the lives of over 100 New Mexicans every day.." Ah, no, not even close. There have been 231 deaths since the first one on March 26. An average of 4.6 deaths per day, the most in any one day was 12. For comparison, last year's flu season (6 months) saw 338 New Mexicans die.

Orlie Romero

100 lives everyday, what, 250 in 5 months.

Tom Hyland

Stefanie, your announcement that the covid is killing 100 New Mexicans every day is so wrong I'm staggered by your ignorance. If you visit the New Mexico Department of Health website it will tell you that so far, as of May 16th, there have been 5,662 positive case reported and a grand total of 253 deaths. Where did you come up with 100 a day??

Tom Hyland

Stefanie, if you visit the New Mexico Department of Health website you will learn that since the covid virus began, there have been 5,662 positive cases confirmed, in New Mexico. Of those 5,662 cases there have been 253 deaths, in New Mexico, total. Where did you get information saying 100 people a day are dying from covid19 in New Mexico?

Connie Lopez

'“She said May 15 before and some restaurants planned on that,” said George Gundrey, who owns the popular Tomasita’s restaurants in Santa Fe and Albuquerque as well as Atrisco Cafe & Bar. “I’m very disappointed. What else is there to say?”' This is sad news, Mr. Gundrey, I agree. But just know your staying closed saves Santa Fe/ABQ lives. Sometimes selling a $14.00 tamale plate is just not worth getting my grandpa sick. Connie Lopez-Lucero

Bill Cass

Then your grandpa can stay home. This is not complicated.

Bruce Billbob

It is complicated because Bill Cassara's Granddaughter can get a $ 14 tamale plate and get the corona virus from the server who isn't wearing a mask because ...........

who knows, and then play hopscotch with Constance Lucero's son and get Corona Virus from the Hopscotch rock, give it to Connie and Connie gives it to her Grandmother. THAT"S how viruses work. How do you think they got here from China, or Bill Gates secret lab? A bat didn't get trapped in the jet stream and blown across the ocean and infect the server at Tomasitas.

Jim Klukkert

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

With the crisis now continuing for weeks now, how can you be so mis-informed? Or are you spreading mis-information in an attempt to build a false issue? Just scoring points political points?

In any case, get yourself educated. We keep the curve flattened, or so many feet sick at once that we crash the health care system, and many more die. The elderly or otherwise frail die at a higher rate.

It is so not about "grandpa can stay home." Your comment is callous, and uninformed.

David Ford


Excellent and astute observations all. Sadly when you are dealing with people who only think and comprehend in "blame games" and in extremely and provably WRONG narratives it is a lost cause. However, there is always hope that some of our local stable geniuses may be swayed by actual facts and logic, so keep on keeping on brother1

Jim Klukkert

David Ford- Thank you for your very kind words. I miss my colleagues from many years of face to face organizing. In these days of appropriate isolation, sending me your encouragement is most welcome and enheartening.

Again thanks David, and right back at you brother! The arc of history does bend towards justice, but what a long arc!


Orlie Romero

You can’t crash the medical system when majority have been lauded off, keep your head in the game!

Dennis Mares

And get sick from a $2 tamale like a real Santa Feo!

Jim Klukkert


Paula Lozar

How about when you're inside your car? I'll wear a mask if I have to, but it seems redundant inside a closed car ...

Connie Lopez

Use common sense. Of course not inside your car, but once you open window to interact with public, place mask. Connie Lopez-Lucero

Bridgett May

Well, I discovered that people wear the mask inside the car because they wash their hands and then put it on the one time when they are at home or wherever before they go out. It's a bit tough to follow the "don't touch your mask". I wear one for 8 hours straight, and it's important that you wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off.

David Ford

Few people understand the proper way to wear and use a mask. Wear it and manage it like there is Corona Virus stuck to the outside of the mask.......

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