New Mexico will fully reopen July 1, just ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, even though the state fell slightly short of its vaccination target by Thursday’s deadline, the Governor’s Office announced Friday.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has said she would lift the state’s coronavirus restrictions after 60 percent of eligible New Mexicans were fully vaccinated — allowing stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses to operate at 100 percent capacity and removing limits for large gatherings such as art festivals and concerts. As of Thursday, the state’s vaccination rate was 59.4 percent.

But, officials said, additional data was still coming in.

“The state is anticipating a new batch of federal vaccination data for New Mexico residents receiving their shots from federal entities, which often lags by several days … as well as New Mexicans’ completed vaccination data from the neighboring state of Texas,” the Governor’s Office said in a news release.

“So far as there is a ‘margin of error’ in vaccination data, the state is well within it with respect to the 60 percent target,” the release said.

Residents aren’t considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after they’ve received their final shot. That means three-fifths of eligible residents needed to get their booster shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Thursday for the state to lift its restrictions by July 1. A delay in reopening would’ve forced retailers and other businesses to abide by the state’s occupancy limits a little longer.

Pat Block, a lobbyist for the New Mexico Retail Association, lauded the governor’s decision to allow the state to reopen despite the shortfall.

“We suspected that with the way the rest of the country was going, with the way the numbers in New Mexico were looking, that they would find a way even if they were a tad shy,” Block said in an interview.

“The other sign that something like that was coming was a couple of weeks ago, when everybody went turquoise, and they said, ‘We are not going back regardless of the numbers,’ ” he added, referring to the state’s soon-to-be-retired color-coded system of public health restrictions for counties. “So, I had a strong feeling that they would make this happen. And, like they [said], we’re in the margin of error.”

For months, state Senate Republicans have criticized the governor, a Democrat, for not reopening the state sooner. In a terse statement Friday, they said: “It’s about time.”

Even though theaters will no longer have occupancy limits, don’t expect a full house at the Santa Fe Opera or Lensic Performing Arts Center.

“We are going to continue to maintain a degree of social distancing,” Robert K. Meya, the opera’s general director, said in an interview. “That is something we have been very clear about. Our plan is to keep one empty seat between groups of people.”

Around 75 percent to 80 percent of seats will be filled for each performance, Meya estimated.

“We will be asking people to be masked,” he said. “We can’t let our guard down. We have been committed to safety, safety, safety.”



The Lensic will gradually increase its capacity in July and August to help audiences acclimate to large crowds.

“We want to do things so you don’t feel crowded right now,” said Joel Aalberts, the theater’s executive director. “We are going to continue to grow the capacity. We will continue to evaluate the rules and regulations we are going to follow.”

Dropping virus restrictions will make the state more welcoming for tourists, said Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.

“People will be able to enjoy Santa Fe the way they have been historically,” Randall said.

While local business owners praised the governor’s decision to do away with occupancy limits, many said they were struggling to find enough workers to operate at reduced capacity, let alone full capacity.

“We’re currently at 75 percent [capacity] and can barely keep up,” said Rick Pedram, president and chief operating officer of Santa Fe Dining, which owns six local eateries. “At some point, we’re hoping to see restaurant [workers] come back.”

Still, many merchants were grateful to fully reopen.

“We can fill our bar again,” said Lutz Arnhold, managing director of the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi. “Our guests can experience the real Anasazi at full capacity.”

Earlier this month, the state began offering cash incentives to boost its inoculation effort. Fully vaccinated residents who are at least 18 years old may opt in for a chance to win the $5 million grand prize, and adults who have received at least one shot are eligible for the smaller regional drawings as part of the state’s Vax 2 the Max Sweepstakes. In the first regional drawing, a Santa Fe resident on Friday was among the winners, each of whom will take home $250,000.

The state has not disclosed the winners’ names.

The state also gave $100 to residents who got vaccinated this week in the days leading up to Thursday’s inoculation deadline.

In addition to cash prizes, the state is offering travel packages, hunting and fishing licenses, passes to state parks and museums, and other items to persuade reluctant residents to get their coronavirus shots.

The incentives appeared to have paid off. The number of people getting a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine increased nearly 460 percent this week, public health officials said.

(53) comments

Rod Oldehoeft

Almost all COVID-19 deaths are among the unvaccinated. Let natural selection, aided by the Delta variant, clean out the gene pool.

Tom Hyland

I know people who got vaccinated because they thought the airlines were going to insist, some day, that everyone be vaxxed in order to fly. They went ahead and did this even though it wasn't imperative. Now it is becoming apparent that blood clots and stroke, exasperated by the covid vaccines, are a much greater risk when flying at 33,000 feet. This article explains the ironic twist of circumstances that have developed since so many volunteered to roll up their sleeves.

https://dailyheadlines.com/airline-just-canceled-hundreds-of-flights-now-speculation-is-running-wild-about-why/

mark Coble

Big box stores stayed open while mom and pop stores closed. That's equality according to whom? Who profited from covid? Where did relief money go, exactly? I know, don't ask embarrassing questions.

Barry Rabkin

Keeping Big Box stores open during the pandemic was the logical move for our Governor to make. Why? Because it is logical, and correct, to keep the number of places that any person can shop at a minimal level. Enabling people to visit and/or shop (or eat) at multiple places amplifies the likelihood of exposure to infection, hospitalization, intubation, and death. Does that tactic hurt, and quite possibly destroy, small businesses? Yes, absolutely. Managing contagion is significantly more important than managing commerce during a global, highly infectious virus pandemic.

LeRoy Sanchez

Well said!

Margaret Eyler

Lol Barry you’re still bought in!

Tom Hyland

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of the truth." - Albert Einstein- You didn't think at all, Barry, because if you did think, and you did just the most minimal research you would have learned that you, in your age group, have a 99.5% chance of survival if you should incur the virus. With odds like that how can one even care? This planned disaster began with the Gates-funded Event 201 in October 2019. It was mapped out precisely how the whole deal would go down. You were naive to swallow the authority verbatim. Get vaxxed, Barry... often.

Charlotte Rowe

this should be reported for disinformation.

Charlotte Rowe

Appaently YOU profited, Mark Coble, based on the fact that you're alive today to kvetch about it.

Tom Hyland

Please inform everyone, Charlotte, what is disinformation in my comment above.

mark Coble

Small mom and pop stores are glad to see your comment.

Brad Wieneke

While this article mentions Texas, I know several people that went to Colorado, several months ago because they could get vaccinated there and could not get accepted by the health department in New Mexico.

Rob Woods

Does this mean youth sports athletes do not have to wear masks during practice and play?

Jason Evans

MLG has abandoned 'the science' because her advisors tell her it will harm her re-election efforts. Proving that there never really was any 'science' and that her misguided tyrannical edicts unnecessarily caused enormous economic pain and mental anguish among NM citizens simply because she is an incompetent boob.

Donald Apodaca

Jason Evans, MLG's advisors have been working OVERTIME during the pandemic. Remember the Spending at NM governor's mansion during the pandemic? How about the "CROTCH GRABBING" allegations that never happened, however, a settlement worth almost twice as much as most New Mexican's make in a year was just given to the plaintiff. The question NOW is who can raise more money than her in the next election?

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup]Well said.

mark Coble

True. See how PCR tests are manipulated.

LeRoy Sanchez

You are so wrong.

LeRoy Sanchez

That’s what YOU are!

Charlotte Rowe

Apparently you are not a scientist, Jason.

Russell Scanlon

And then, of course, there are those who look at chicken soup and see chicken poop.

Barry Rabkin

Our Governor has been doing her best striving to save lives and not overwhelm our healthcare system during this COVID-19 pandemic of a highly infectious and deadly virus. Equally as deadly are the idiots who think that COVID-19 is the same as the seasonal flu, is fake, or don't need to get vaccinated. She continues to have my total respect and my vote when she runs again. I completely agree with her strategy that managing contagion is more important than managing commerce.

Lee DiFiore

Saving lives? There are 4,310 who disagree with you. Overwhelm the healthcare system? That was the March 2020 lie used to crush business in this state (we still haven't fully recovered) and throw tens of thousands of people out of work. And what real proof can you cite that her actions had any impact whatsoever on the direction the virus took in NM? Not your feelings, real proof!

Comment deleted.
Barry Rabkin

I apologize for my comment about the 4,310 people who died. But I continue to believe closing businesses was the absolutely correct action for our Governor to take.

Donald Apodaca

Barry Rabkin, we understand you are a loyal VOTER. My question is how much money will you give the MLG campaign in 2021? As far as the FAKE flu goes. Are you aware that U.S. funds for risky research caused the pandemic. How do you feel about that? I believe... our Government will benefit most from the pandemic. They can't come out and SAY "die to the elderly, overweight and or non productive slaves (tax payers)" but that is exactly what has happened. Reality is SCARY. PREPARE for inflation NOW! Because it is going to smack us all in the FACE unless we are wealthy or rich.

Barry Rabkin

Covid-19 is a real, global highly infectious and deadly pandemic. I suggest that you visit some hospitals or morgues and ask them. I suggest you travel to Italy or better than that, travel to India where you can help with the cremations. Or stay close to home and ask LNAL people about how ‘fake’ the virus is. Yes, REALITY is scary and you can’t face it. COVID-19 was and is reality. I applaud every State Governor that closed down their State to minimize the number of people getting exposed to infection, hospitalization, and death. Not to shock you, I am 76 and have been a registered Republican my entire life: the palpable idiocy of our NM Republican Party as well as the fools who voted for Trump would have resulted in more hospitalizations and deaths.

LeRoy Sanchez

So true.

Margaret Eyler

Barry you’re too scared to be a Republican.

mark Coble

True, it hurts, but true.

LeRoy Sanchez

So true!

Margaret Eyler

Barry I bet you’re still locked in your house with two masks on!

Charlotte Rowe

Margaret, we know where you are. And it's nowhere near the GED signup you need.

Charlotte Rowe

She has done a spectacular job as well. Most of those dissing her are misogynistic men who hate knowing they are inferior to a woman, or women who have bought into their male overlords' ignorance.

Mike Johnson

I see, so what so-called "science" is she using now??? Political science no doubt.....[lol][lol]

John Cook

How sad to constantly gripe and complain. We are reopening. That's a good thing. We have saved lives by being smart. New Mexico is at the top of a 'good list' nationally. All good! Brava to the Governor!

Mike Johnson

NM ranks 13th worst in the US for deaths per capita, and was one of the last states to reopen, 46 before us, are those not on your "good list" of stats? So partisan, so blind to the truth and reality. Politics, all politics.

Russell Scanlon

NM has one of the highest vax rates in the nation and the delayed reopening was to ensure low COVID transmission rates. See? Two can play statistics! The fact is, we are reopening, our COVID rates are low, and people who are not consumed by FOX news blather are happy.

Donald Apodaca

Politics: Organised crime with an edge.

Charlotte Rowe

Dust off your arithmetic, MIke. That makes us better than 37 other states.

Carmen M

[thumbup][thumbup]

Donald Apodaca

John Cook, all is good? Brava to the Governor? We are living in BIZZARO times of planet earth. LOL!

LeRoy Sanchez

Brava!

Scott Smart

Some folks can't be pleased...

Emily Koyama

And some will defend MLG until the cows come home.

rodney carswell

and others will defend the pathological liar who tried to launch an insurrection against the elected government of the United States.

Donald Apodaca

Emily Koyama, we are living in Bizzaro World.

Charlotte Rowe

Because MLG is smart, successful, honorable - everything her critics are not.

Lupe Molina

Takes an exceptional amount of privilege and chauvinism to whinge about her for a year and then double down on complaints when she does exactly what you've wanted all along.

Russell Scanlon

It takes privilege, a short memory, a partisan axe to grind (constantly), and a breathtaking lack of self awareness.

Barry Rabkin

You and Lupe are exactly right.

John Cook

Amen.

Charlotte Rowe

Lupe - WORD! But bless their little hearts, they aren't very bright.

Charlotte Rowe

Starting your GED soon?

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