Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks Wednesday during an online news conference covering adjustments in the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Bridget Dixson lauded news of the state’s plan to fully reopen by the end of June.

“We are excited for what feels like the end of the tunnel, the end of restrictions, which will be great for commerce, tourism and the city as a whole,” said Dixson, president of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, following an announcement Wednesday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico’s top health officials during a virtual news conference on COVID-19.

Lujan Grisham said the state is “conquering COVID.”

Officials expect 60 percent of residents to be fully vaccinated by late June, enough to allow residents to get back to business almost as usual — with masks on, in many cases.

The governor and health officials said it’s still imperative for New Mexicans to play it safe by following federal and state health guidelines. Mask requirements for indoor public places will remain.

The state will help businesses find ways to operate at full capacity while adhering to social-distancing guidelines, Lujan Grisham said.

Her comments came on the 414th day of the pandemic in New Mexico and just a day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear face coverings outdoors unless they are in a crowd.

The state will adopt those guidelines. Beginning Friday, residents can bike, jog or walk outside without wearing a mask if they are fully inoculated.

However, the governor said sports teams and people engaging in outdoor group athletic activities must keep their faces covered.

“It will be a lifelong journey, but we should always be winning against COVID, and in fact New Mexico is,” Lujan Grisham said.

State Republican Party leaders applauded the plan to reopen in coming months but criticized the governor over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including business and school closures.

“It’s good that perhaps there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but the Governor has been playing politics with our health crisis from the beginning and has confounded and hurt our citizens with her illogical color-coded system,” Steve Pearce, chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, wrote in a statement issued by his office Wednesday.

He was referring to the state’s county-based, color-coded system of coronavirus restrictions on business operations.

“Our economy has been crushed, jobs lost and businesses have been closed for good, and there’s never been a concrete or equitable plan to address COVID-19,” Pearce wrote.

Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca of Belen wrote in an email the plan to reopen was welcome, but he was “disappointed that politics got in the way of this self-evident reform to the reopening framework.”

“We have been shouting for months that the people in our communities are suffering because of these continued illogical and unscientific protocols,” Baca wrote. “While I am thankful that the Governor has finally taken action to remedy some of these issues, I hope it is not too little, too late.”

Republican lawmakers pushed to open the state Capitol to the public — particularly during this year’s 60-day legislative session — after it was closed in response to the pandemic.

The Capitol reopened quietly Wednesday — another sign life is slowly returning to some sense of normal.

Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislative Council Service, which oversees the facility, said visitors and staff must wear masks and remain socially distanced when in the building.

The Legislative Council will meet Monday to discuss how interim hearings will be held in the Capitol, Burciaga said. Meanwhile, he and his staff are working on a plan to bring Capitol employees back into their offices.

“We want to make sure staff is vaccinated and are comfortable,” he said. “We have a few offices that are communal offices, shared, so we don’t want to just throw people in together right away. We want to transition into something people feel comfortable and safe with.”

As of Wednesday, 41.6 percent of all New Mexicans 16 and older had been fully vaccinated, the governor said. Once the state reaches a 60 percent vaccination rate — which is expected within nine weeks — the color-coded restriction system will be discarded.

State data shows 699,000 New Mexicans are fully vaccinated and another 267,000 have received one dose and are waiting for a booster shot.

Santa Fe County’s rate of residents who have been fully vaccinated is 46.2 percent, according to state data.

The state also eased the criteria for counties aiming to rise to higher designations.

Under the current criteria, a county can enter turquoise status — the least restrictive designation — after averaging eight or fewer new cases per 100,000 people and having a test positivity rate of 5 percent or less over two consecutive two-week periods. Starting Friday, counties can achieve turquoise status with an average of 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 people and a 7 percent positivity rate for four weeks.

Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said New Mexico has had 271 “breakout” cases, in which people who were fully vaccinated still contracted COVID-19. Four of those patients have died, though Scrase said only one of the deaths was definitively tied to the virus.

Nationwide, the CDC reported in mid-April that out of the 75 million Americans who received COVID-19 vaccinations, 5,800 still contracted the virus and 74 died.

Lujan Grisham said the state’s progress in overcoming the virus has been “monumental.”

“We are basically there. Our efforts have in fact paid off.”

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(44) comments

Kenneth Chaney

She still thinks that all and any masks work! Amazing science.

paul pacheco

Covid has nowhere to go except to go away! Don’t try and take credit for something that has been in process since July 2020! Next mlg will try and take credit for the vaccine! Why then doesn’t she get rid of the mask? What a fake!

Lee DiFiore

"End of restrictions"? Ha! That hasn't been defined, is 9 weeks away, is not guaranteed and will at least require we continue to wear masks even if vaccinated. How benevolent of queen grishy.

Sam Hicaim

Following an earlier post. Where is the risk and reward tradeoff having kids competing outside in the summer heat in high intensity sports. Risks of transmission vs risk of those kids health? Seriously, let's get smarter about this before you have to change the rules because kids are getting hurt for no reason but your own political skin

Sam Hicaim

Perhaps it is time a more thoughtful and intelligent approach is taken by Governor and her advisors. There are kids who are passing out and even taken to hospital because they are competing in high intensity activities that require them to wear a mask, random businesses restricted when others of the same nature are open. The collateral damage that continues to people and livelihoods with little effort made to come up with more thoughtful 'rules' is unnecessary. One wishes the same intellectual effort to benefit oneself politically was put into getting as many kids, businesses and people making to normal activities. There is no science to support many of the remaining restrictions. It is now just convenience for political means.

Prince Michael Jauregui

An excellent observation, Mr. Hicaim. Be sure: Before, during and undoubtedly after the pandemic, Grisham merely towed the DNC party-line - above all. Her grossly premature "Conquered the pandemic" word-drool, is akin to the "Mission Accomplished" falsity spewed by another inept, career-politician years-ago. Perhaps, "Conquered the jewelry store" would be much, more honest.

Sabine Strohem

Please get vaccinated folks!

B. Rosen

All in all, I think our governor has done an admirable job dealing with the pandemic. She has consistently followed the science in making her decisions and it has given results. I do hope we can start to ease back from some of the restrictions and start rebuilding our state’s economy after this horrific year.

Barry Rabkin

Our Governor has done an excellent job managing the pandemic. I am beyond thankful that her North Star was - and remains - saving lives and not overwhelming our healthcare system. Save lives and our healthcare system 1st (regardless of how long it takes) and when the data enables businesses to re-open, only then re-open the businesses. She has my vote next year when she runs for governor again.

JB Weinberg

[thumbup] I agree B. Rosen. The Governor's actions protected New Mexicans and saved New Mexican lives. I am grateful.

Michael Kiley

Governor Lujan Grisham, who pre4viously headed the state health department, was headlined in the New York Times as the nation's most successful governor combatting the pandemic.

Emily Koyama

An axe murderer would get praise from the long as they were a Democrat.

rodney carswell

Just to fact check Ms. Koyama: This is how Forbes ( a true middle of the road and professional journal) ranks reliability in journalism:

So believe EK or professional journals with standards; you choose (pretty easy test).

Jim Klukkert


Jim Klukkert

Emily Koyama, always first with baseless distortions and fictions.

Thanks Emmy, or maybe not, with another comment designed to foster division, and standing firm against the middle ground and understanding so needed in the USA.

Why do you hate the Union?

Chris Mechels

When will our government reopen??? Time to end their long vacations.

Gene Hill

I will take your comment as a joke. The people I know that work in state government haven't had a break for over a year, and the same goes for those of us who support them.

Sabine Strohem

Deplorably ignorant comment, Chris.

Chris Mechels

Does this mean she will finally take her knee off our neck, and let us breath?

The next thing we must do is modify the Phera Act, to strip her right to extend her emergency powers forever. She loves it a bit too much. If she vetoes the modification, impeach her.

Her whole deal is unchecked power, and that explains the train wreck Cabinet and the incompetent staff. Now she is celebrating her "victory"... After killing a lot of folks with her incompetence. First the Nursing Homes, then the tribal areas, etc. Always reacting, and shouting directions from her little bull horn.

Angel Ortiz

Chris. The phrase "take her knee off our neck, and let us breathe" is highly inappropriate. More political babble that has zero application here!

Patrick Brockwell

Chris Mechels your comparing our Governor to Derek Chauvin is way out of line. Did you mean the former guy has his knee off of the country's neck?

Barry Rabkin

Her 'whole deal' is being data and model based to save lives and not overwhelm our healthcare system. If Pierce was governor, we would have needed more refrigerator trucks for dead New Mexicans and completely overwhelmed our healthcare system. The Governor is not to blame for what has been happening to commerce in New Mexico: COVID-19 bears the entire responsibility. I am sorry she has had to out up with the ignorance of so many people who can't get it into their heads that a global pandemic of a highly infectious and deadly virus cascaded throughout the world and mandated changes to the way we lived to save lives. I am thankful she has been our Governor.

JB Weinberg


Carlos Vasquez


Khal Spencer

I know it is a rock vs hard place choice but I was not happy when Gov. said she would keep the emergency order in place indefinitely. Its about time the Legislature grew a pair and put in some oversight as we see in other blue states. That's not a criticism of her choices, which seem fair given we are in uncharted waters. I just don't like the legislative branch of government being relegated to irrelevance while the executive amasses indefinite and unchecked power.

Lupe Molina

To be fair, they make themselves irrelevant by mostly being less than competent. Lujan Grisham is governor because she a high performer among their ranks. But don't anticipate that the other will commit the time and critical thinking. I think your last sentence is just hyperbolic.

Khal Spencer

I disagree it is hyperbolic since the Gov can assert a lot of power outside of normal executive authority and do it indefinitely without legislative approval. Agree that the Legislature makes itself irrelevant.

Cheryl Meyer


zach miller

as long as New Mexican's are wearing a mask indoors and getting their vaccine, it could very well be likely.

Andrew Lucero

Hummmm..... Interesting, we could possibly open back up within 9 weeks.... Yet some states like Michigan, Oregon and Washington are ratcheting restrictions back up. Don't get your hopes up folks.... As those states go, New Mexico tends to follow.

Angel Ortiz


Kirk Allison

" guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which, among other things, will allow residents to bike, jog or walk outside without having to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated."

And if you're not vaccinated, you will be relegated to second class citizens, without any right to be in public? What a choice, be extorted into being injected with an experimental product, or be stripped of your rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

zach miller

pursuit of happiness includes not having a virus spread around your community when there is simple simple simple ways to stop it.

JB Weinberg


zach miller

its actually harder to be as ignorant as you than it is to wear a mask and get vaccinated.

Khal Spencer

I doubt if non-vaccinated people will have to wear a yellow armband in public. The hyperbole, though, is pretty funny.

Barry Rabkin

Experimental ???? There are decades of research enabling the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Regardless, no person has the right to expose other people to infection, hospitalization, intubation, or death.

Lupe Molina

Americans are hilarious. We'll rush out to grab the McRib when it comes out, pound Four Lokos, eat all sorts of stuff with chemical names we can't pronounce in the ingredients, but when 100 year old vaccine technology is refined by doctors it's some sort of "experimental" conspiracy?! Natural selection, folks.

Cheryl Odom


Khal Spencer

You hit the nail on the head, Lupe.

Emily Koyama

Yes, I agree. McRibs are yummy.

Carlos Vasquez


Robert Kowalski

Conquering Covid. What’s laugh. A virus where the vaccine doesn’t cure you. But yes Governor you conquered it....

Lupe Molina

^Doesn't get how vaccines work.

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