Rancho de Chimayó is open for business one week after closing following a possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

David Merritt, general manager of Rancho de Chimayó, said Friday was the first day the popular restaurant that serves classic New Mexico cuisine had resumed operations since it closed July 23, after being notified that someone who had been on the premises might have been exposed to the virus.

Because of privacy reasons, Merritt would not share whether the person was an employee, a guest or someone else.

Fifty-five Rancho de Chimayó employees were tested for the virus Tuesday and all were cleared Wednesday, Merritt said.

Merritt said the restaurant was sanitized the day after it closed and again Thursday before it reopened.

Rancho de Chimayó is able to accommodate a large number of guests despite the state’s public health order that prohibits indoor dining. Even while adhering to social distancing guidelines recommending tables be spaced at least 6 feet apart, Merritt said the restaurant has patio seating for up to 120 guests.

Merritt said the restaurant goes to extra lengths to ensure the safety of its staff and customers. It hands out masks to anyone who needs them and even recommends employees bring a change of clothing to put on at the end of their shift to minimize the risk of bringing the virus back to their homes.

“We take the health and safety of our community and staff very seriously,” Merritt said. “We’ve worked really, really hard with [owner] Ms. [Florence] Jaramillo and the rest of staff to make sure we keep people safe.”

Police: Ex-New Mexico deputy hoarded lost evidence in home

LAS CRUCES — A former sheriff’s deputy in Southern New Mexico was arrested Thursday on charges of tampering with evidence after detectives say a cleaning crew found boxes of guns and case files at his foreclosed home.

Former Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy Vincent Lopez, 54, was taken into custody following an investigation that began in May when the crew stumbled upon bags of evidence, firearms, ammunition and case files, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

On May 23, a crew went to clean a foreclosed home in Las Cruces to prepare the house for resale, police said.

Authorities report that when the cleaners entered the house, they came upon boxes containing bags of police evidence and scattered pages of police case files.

Authorities said the piles of evidence to specific cases had never been entered into the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office evidence station.

Staff and wire reports

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(1) comment

Kathy Cota

Not sure I would have advertised possible COVID.19 expourse @ Rancho de Chimayo if I were owner. Not great marketing.

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