Two men sit on a bench on the Plaza last May without wearing masks. 

Janet Gaines had a protective mask with her, but she wasn’t wearing it. She whipped it out of her purse in a flash to prove she was carrying one.

Sitting on a stoop of a Canyon Road shop, she said she had just heard the good news: A day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced people who have been fully vaccinated can go maskless in most places, state officials said New Mexico will follow suit.

“It’s such a relief,” said Gaines, a retired University of New Mexico employee who lives in Albuquerque. “This is the day we’ve all been waiting for.”

Though New Mexico is not out of the woods when it comes to the respiratory virus — the state’s death toll is 4,113 — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced Friday that in most cases, “fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear a mask in either indoor or outdoor settings.”

The city of Santa Fe on Friday also revised its mask-wearing guidelines to align with the CDC and the state.

There are some exceptions. Masks must still be worn in schools, health care centers, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and while riding public transportation. A spokeswoman for the Public Education Department said school staff, students and visitors must still don them except when eating or drinking.

“Despite new mask guidance Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mask requirement is unchanged for school settings for now due to the potential spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated students,” spokeswoman Judy Robinson said in a statement.

Dusty Young, the associate director of the New Mexico Activities Association, said the governing body for high school sports still requires all participants and attendees of athletic and activity events to wear masks, including the State Spirit Competition that concludes Saturday.

Officials for the University of New Mexico athletic department and the New Mexico United said they will continue to require fans to wear masks as the organizations review the updated health order.

The United play their first home soccer match in almost two years Saturday against the Austin Bold. UNM’s baseball team is in the midst of a three-game home series against Utah Valley that ends Sunday.

Still, Gaines said there’s no sense in chucking masks at this point. For one thing, individual businesses, localities and tribal entities may still require them.

Gaines said that’s one reason she’ll be carrying her mask with her for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve got to respect their requests,” she said of business owners who may choose to keep mask-wearing practices in place.

And people who are not fully vaccinated are still required to wear masks in public settings, according to the new state directive.

“Unvaccinated individuals remain at risk of contracting and spreading the virus; over 99 percent of new COVID-19 cases nationwide are among the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Tracie Collins, New Mexico’s health secretary, in the news release.

Still, it’s not clear how state officials could track members of that population easily should they chose to defy the new orders.

State officials continue to urge residents to take safety precautions and said guidelines regarding limits to mass gatherings are still in effect.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Staff writer James Barron contributed to this report.

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.

(32) comments

Sigmund Silber

Our Governor sold the state out to please Biden. More will die because of our Governor.

Should one assume that a person without a mask is indeed vaccinated? Are people who are COVID-19 deniers likely to be honest about whether they are vaccinated or not?

Our Governor sold us out. There might be something in it for her but the flips side is more New Mexicans will die for her ambition.

mark Coble

Guess what? I never wore mask! NOT vaccinated! But now Gov says I don't have to if I've taken non FDA, no longer term study, experimental shot? Nope! I DON'T NEED HER PERMISSION to do anything including using common sense. Will we see those idiots ( can't think of nicer term ) who will still wear masks while alone in cars? I am guess yes as they follow the Daily Democrat message of FEAR and Panic!

Lee DiFiore

Rumor is they are going to require a vaccine passport to vote, AKA voter suppression. Should put a quick end to all the screeching about having to carry vax credentials or show them to gain entry.

John Cook

Well, I'm the only one who has suggested that a valid vaccine card be required for entry into public buildings, public transport and polling places. I'd sure like to give the anti-vaxxers that freedom of choice. Sadly, I doubt the Governor will follow my excellent suggestion.

Lee DiFiore

Careful bro, the percentage of blacks and Hispanics that haven't been vaccinated is low compared to whites. Your pushing vaccine passports in order to vote could be construed as RACIST or, even worse, an attempt to suppress the dem vote.

mark Coble

Should non experimental shot takers wear a yellow star? That would be great as we would know who is what!

Jim Klukkert

mark Coble, though I disagree vehemently with what you have to say, I support your right to say it.

However, constantly doing this Yellow Star thing, as if we lived in Na*ii insults the memory of those who suffered the Holocaust, as well as many who live with that pain still.

Please desist. I am sure there are other metaphors you can employ.

Sincerely, thank you.

mark Coble

Perhaps those of us who won't comply should wear a yellow star on our clothes?

Jim Klukkert

mark Coble, though I disagree vehemently with what you have to say, I support your right to say it.

However, constantly doing this Yellow Star thing, as if we lived in Na*i occupied Europe, insults the memory of those who suffered the Holocaust, as well as many who live with that pain still.

Please desist. I am sure there are other metaphors you can employ.

Sincerely, thank you.

Pam Neely

Don't be surprised if your fellow citizens check in about you going maskless, though. Was just in Whole Foods, maskless, because I am fully vaccinated and WF is no longer enforcing masks. Had a random guy ask me if he could get me a mask from upfront. He was not an employee - was just another shopper. Then he asked, "or are you vaccinated, and you have your card?" To which I told him, "Thanks, I am fully vaccinated. And I have my card. And I asked up front about it when I came in."

I will spare you what I thought next. Which I of course didn't say. :)

Lee DiFiore

Whole Foods is a karen magnet.

rodney carswell

In other words, your favorite store.

mark Coble

I don't wear mask, no experimental shot either. But Whole Foods is where far left science deniers (aka followers of the Daily Democrat paper) shop. NO ONE has questioned me in a few weeks about not wearing mask. I can see they are tired of charade and envy me. Hahaha.

Diane Gonzales

This good news is that we are making some headway. With two grandchildren under 12 yrs. I will be keeping my mask on at the store and not taking them to restaurants till the vaccine is approved for their age group. I'm okay with that.

Michael Kiley

Governor Lujan did a stellar job against many false friends in our state. Now she has given the

"open yesterday already" voices what they wanted. She could order mandatory vaccination, but has not. Its now up to all organizations to make vaccination a requirement, just like shots in grade school and measles vax for college. You have it in your power to cut the deaths to zero. Let's see you walk the talk. No shoes, no shirt, no vax card, no service.

Margaret Eyler


Pam Walker

I totally agree with this so please don't jump me for asking this question. Are stores going to want proof and ask to see your card? I have my card in my purse but not sure I want to be taking it out all the time to prove I am vaccinated.

rodney carswell

are you seriously asking the peanut gallery to chime in on whether "stores are going to want proof and ask to see your card"? cuz really, how the H would any of us folks know the answer to that? And for sure, mucho sympathy on the extreme difficulty of having to reach for your card over and over again (could make it into a badge I guess?); a bridge too far, if there ever was one...whew!

Elizabeth Pettus

I would seriously consider photocopying your card-both sides and laminating the copy-keeping the original safe at home. If there is ever a booster needed, the medical professionals will want to fill it out on the same card. The card should probably be kept with the yellow vaccination card in your passport.

Nancy Lockland

That is illegal. Dont let anyone tell u otherwise

John Cook

This is good news. That is assuming, of course, that the unvaccinated follow the Governor's direction and continue to wear masks.

David Gunter

Well, if the unvaccinated are going to remove their masks and go around putting themselves at risk, I'm not going to care about them.

Khal Spencer

Yep. Personal responsibility.

Dan Lewis


Nancy Lockland

Exactly the way I feel. My health is not your responsibility and vice versa.

Stefanie Beninato

Actually, Nancy, since you do not think COVID is a pandemic, your health is everyone's concern because your responses say I will not get vaccinated and I don't care about others.

Jim Klukkert

Congratulations Nancy Lockland! You have now qualified for a Darwin Award!


mark Coble

Excellent! I don't need you to care about me! I never wore mask in first place. Always said I have medical condition. IQ over 70 is medical condition, right? Hahaha.

Richard Irell

Think of it as evolution in action.

Khal Spencer


mark Coble

Nope. Don't need her permission to live without face diaper. YOU can continue to do so. I don't care.

Nancy Lockland

Your health is not my responsibility

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