As the weather warms, severe limitations on businesses are beginning to thaw.

Starting Friday, New Mexico will begin easing some business restrictions that have been in place in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday.

Retailers that have been temporarily shuttered will be allowed to conduct curbside pickup and delivery services if their business license permits it. Gun stores will be permitted to make sales by appointment, state parks will reopen for day use only, pet services can reopen and golf courses can reopen, the governor said.

Lujan Grisham said that if people continue to stay away from one another, practice safe pandemic hygiene and limit travel outside the home, restaurants, gyms, salons and other services could begin to open at a limited capacity as soon as mid-May.

Although restrictions will begin to lift, the governor extended the state’s stay-at-home instructions until May 15, and Human Services Secretary David Scrase warned Thursday that the epidemic of COVID-19 likely will not be over for New Mexico until a vaccine is available.

And that likely won’t be ready for another year or more, health experts have said.

“We do know as we ease restrictions and open up businesses, we’ll see more cases,” Lujan Grisham said after The New Mexican asked how state health officials can be certain that easing restrictions will not result in another peak in COVID-19 cases.

“It is slow, steady, viable, prudent and we have to maintain our social contract … and we’re gonna keep seeing increases in cases,” Lujan Grisham said. “There’s no question with the number of asymptomatic individuals that we believe there’s more prevalence of the virus in our community. And since I can’t test everyone, then you have to behave as if you have the virus.”

But the governor said the changes will be good for businesses, many of which have been all but decimated by public health orders meant to slow the spread of the virus. And when restrictions begin easing, the onus will shift to New Mexico residents to continue practicing social distancing, hand-washing and other measures to contain cases, Lujan Grisham said.

State officials announced 198 new cases of the virus Thursday, bringing the state total to 3,411. One hundred and seventy-two patients were in the hospital and 44 were on ventilators, the governor said.

To date, New Mexico has reported 123 deaths, including 11 new deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday. Nearly 68,000 New Mexicans have been tested for the virus, but Lujan Grisham’s administration is continually trying to expand testing.

While some restrictions are being lifted, camping and visitors centers at state parks will remain closed; golf courses will not allow dining or retail services; and restrictions remain in place for offices, cinemas, casinos, gyms and indoor malls. Mass gatherings also remain prohibited.

Popular in the Community