If reduced traffic, empty parking lots and vacant stores are any indication, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s statewide stay-at-home order has taken root.

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t reporting offenders.

A spokesman said state police have received 119 calls reporting businesses being noncompliant with the order, which went into effect Tuesday in the battle against the spread of COVID-19. Though no citations had been issued as of Wednesday morning, state police can charge violators with running afoul of a public health act.

State police spokesman Officer Dusty Francisco said that while the department’s officers are the only members of law enforcement with the ability to issue citations, they have refrained from immediately ticketing people in hopes businesses will quickly adapt.

“We anticipate many of those businesses would comply in the interest of protecting public health and thankfully, that is what we have encountered so far,” Francisco said, noting Chief Tim Johnson has ordered officers to educate noncompliant businesses about the requirements of the order and allow them the chance to adjust.

Not all businesses are closed. The order allows businesses deemed essential, such as supermarkets, medical facilities, gas stations, homeless shelters and child care facilities, to remain open.

According to state statute, any person violating a public health act is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and faces a $100 fine, up to six months in a county jail or both. Each subsequent day of noncompliance is a separate offense.

State police, Francisco said, are working with local agencies to push compliance.

“Those rules are only enforceable by New Mexico State Police; however, we are going to be there to support them with that,” said Santa Fe Police Department Deputy Chief Ben Valdez.

Juan Ríos, a spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said no deputies had been dispatched to speak to anyone at businesses suspected of being out of compliance as of Wednesday afternoon.

“The first tactic that will be used is to educate people in terms of communicating with them that they can’t be in operation,” Ríos said.

According to the Santa Fe Regional Communication Center, only one report of noncompliance in the city and one in the county had been received.

Santa Fe County spokeswoman Carmelina Hart said on a business’s first offense, an officer or supervisor will call the establishment to learn more about the situation and remind operators to adhere to the order.

If a second offense is reported, an officer will go to the business in person, she said.

On the third report, the county will email state police with documentation of all three calls.

According to the state’s order, businesses could face criminal or civil penalties if they do not comply and possibly lose their operating licenses.

Santa Fe County Growth Management Director Penny Ellis-Green said if a business were in violation, it would be the responsibility of the state to enforce those rules.

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(14) comments

Elaine Summerhill

So, you all are going to start arresting & fining business owners AFTER you've released criminals from jail? That's real smart.... NOT!

You can't keep people locked up forever. It goes against our instincts & it is distinctly un-American!

Constance lucero

Governor in a tough position saying stuff like this. I mean all other states are same the saying thing, so Michelle must do same. And their residents are asking the the same question: "How is it going to be enforced?" Answer: It's simply not, short of deploying local national guard units to city parks, etc.

Really look around, local residential construction quite robust, and those workers are not 6 feet apart, so why is this group of people exempt? Michelle sees this just like you and I do, but Michelle knows shutting down residential construction would tank NM for years and will not do it until other state governors do it boldly--it'll never happen, folks.

Khal Spencer

As someone who has worked for nearly a score of years to make Santa Fe and Los Alamos bicycle-friendly communities, I find it a somewhat bitter pill that you can get your gas guzzler worked on but find your bicycle kicked to the curb. New Mexico is one of only two states that explicitly closed down its bicycle shops.

Some progress is being made to allow for repairs of bicycles to keep people who are either car free or otherwise depending on bicycle transportation mobile, but the lack of attention to alternative transportation when thousands are out of work is hard to swallow. Hopefully just an oversight, but slow to correct.

Anyone interested in green transportation needs to call the Governor's office on this at 476-2200. This is not about lycra clad weenies parading around but making sure bicycle transportation is on a level footing with the automobile.

Khal Spencer

Confusion reigns as states reverse course on 'essential' status for bike shops


Ree Kepler

New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Director has required all employees work including all office staff. The building is not closed to the public. I believe something is wrong here and should be addressed accordingly

Constance lucero

There is no way NMSP going to use precious resources for chasing down crowds of 5+. NMSP would have to hire an additional 5,000 troopers.

Peter Romero

This is what happens when you pass students to the next grade without knowing how to read.

Khal Spencer

The exempt list needs to be revisited after evaluation.

Lawrence Martinez

What's part of no don't people understand?!!

Loyal Customer

Our friends at the NMSP should arrest the Governor for blabbing hot air without a mask. Her interpreters and camera men should wear masks, too. Practice what you preach hypocrites !

Dr. Michael Johnson

Frau Lujan-Grisham's Gestapo is ready to go after you, violating Constitutional rights are now acceptable.

John Puerner

What about car dealers and mechanics? What about computer and wireless customer service stores? What about vet clinics? This story is very vague. The New Mexican should publish a complete list of exceptions.

Mark Martinez

The list of exceptions is long and a little bit less vague. See https://cv.nmhealth.org/stay-at-home-essential-businesses/

risana zaxus

Why are churches, mosques, synagogues specifically exempt from the governors 5 person rule?

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