New COVID Restrictions Level Allows More Activities
Governor Lujan Grisham announced that the state’s Red-Yellow-Green framework for aligning county-level requirements and guidelines with local virus risk has been modified to include a new “Turquoise Level”, to permit more day-to-day and commercial activities. This new level reflects the improving COVID-19 outlook across the state as New Mexicans help drive down transmission. The state’s vaccine distribution plan is contributing to decreased community spread.
The plan includes a new least restrictive level where all business categories can operate indoors with minimal occupancy limitations, depending on the risk level of the activity. A county will reach this least restrictive level, the Turquoise Level, by meeting key health criteria for 2 consecutive two-week periods and effectively graduating out of the Red-Yellow-Green framework, as long is no
“I know New Mexicans are tired of COVID-19 – I am too,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We have made very solid progress in recent weeks and months, and we have all together saved lives and protected our family members and neighbors.”
The county-by-county framework will, as of Feb. 24, include a new least-restrictive designation signifying low risk: the Turquoise Level. A county may operate at the Turquoise Level after having met both key health metrics for 4 weeks. In other words, a county that meets the criteria to operate at the Green Level for 2 consecutive biweekly COVID-19 hotspot updates will elevate to the Turquoise Level, which includes significantly fewer restrictions on commercial and day-to-day activities.
The Turquoise Level includes provisions for expanded indoor dining, the operation of entertainment venues like theaters, bars and clubs, and more.
The updated risk framework and public health order also include the following changes:
- Businesses that had previously been categorized as “close-contact recreational facilities,” and closed at each level of the risk system, will be recategorized and permitted to operate at limited capacities depending on their new category and the risk level of the county in which they operate.
- State parks, which had previously been open only for day-use for New Mexico residents, will now be open to camping with reservations and day-use for all.
LARGE ENTERTAINMENT VENUES, RECREATIONAL FACILITIES, BARS
Previously, the state’s public health order had categorized certain businesses requiring longer periods of close contact among patrons as “close-contact recreational facilities,” which were closed at all risk levels.
Those businesses will be recategorized and permitted to operate in a manner that corresponds to the risk level of the county in which they operate, as outlined in the updated public health order;
Counties at the Turquoise Level have both a new COVID-19 case incidence rate of no greater than 8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the most recent four-week period, and an average percent of positive COVID-19 test results over the most recent four-week period less than or equal to 5%.
Essential businesses (non-retail): No capacity restrictions but operations must be limited to only those absolutely necessary to carry out essential functions.
Essential retail spaces: 75% of maximum capacity (indoor and outdoor)
Food and drink establishments (if NM Safe Certified): 75% of maximum capacity for indoor dining; 75% of maximum capacity for outdoor dining.
Close-contact businesses: 75% of maximum capacity; no restrictions on outdoor spaces.
Large entertainment venues: 33% of maximum capacity for any indoor/enclosed space on premises; 75% of any outdoor space.
Recreational facilities: 50% of maximum capacity of any indoor/enclosed space on the premises; 75% of any outdoor space.
Bars and clubs: 33% of maximum capacity of any indoor/enclosed space; 75% of any outdoor space.
**All other businesses: 75% of maximum capacity indoors; no restrictions on outdoor spaces.
Houses of worship: May hold religious services, indoors or outdoors, or provide services through audiovisual means, but may not exceed 75% of the maximum capacity of any enclosed space.
Places of lodging: No maximum occupancy restrictions for those that have completed NM Safe Certified training; 50% of maximum occupancy for all others; 15 guests maximum for vacation rentals.
Mass gatherings limit: 150 persons, or 200 vehicles
The categories and definitions for each risk level available at cv.nmhealth.org/redtogreen.