FAQs About the Public Health Order & More

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  2. FAQs About the Public Health Order & More

Restaurants in most of New Mexico can offer outdoor dining under an amendment to the state’s emergency public health order.

The amendment is effective Wednesday May 27. It doesn’t apply to the counties of Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties because of the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in that region.

The amendment to allow outdoor dining at restaurants is part of a gradual easing of measures put in place to combat the coronavirus.

New Mexicans are still advised to stay home except for all but the most essential activities and services.

Also, everyone is required to wear a face covering in public settings except when eating, drinking or exercising or if a healthcare provider instructs otherwise.


Q: What additional businesses can now reopen in New Mexico (except for Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties)?

  • Restaurants may offer outdoor dining in compliance with COVID-Safe Practices (CSPs).
  • Retailers that sell goods directly to consumers may operate according to CSPs at 25 percent of fire code occupancy.
  • Offices and call centers also may operate according to CSPs at 25 percent of occupancy.
  • Some state parks can operate with CSPs.
  • Limited summer youth programs with CSPs are permitted.
  • Houses of worship may operate according to CSPs at 25 percent occupancy.
  • Outdoor tennis facilities according to CSPs.

Q: What businesses can now reopen in Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties?

  • Essential businesses. See the May 15 public health order for a list of essential businesses.
  • Retailers for curbside pickup or delivery only.
  • Golf courses.
  • Gun shops by appointment only.

Q: What businesses are closed?

  • Non-essential businesses in Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties except those listed above as open.
  • Close-contact businesses in all of New Mexico, such as barbershops, hair salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors. See the May 15 public health order for a complete list.
  • Recreational facilities in all of New Mexico, such as swimming pools, movie theaters, bowling alleys, indoor shopping malls. See the May 15 public health order for a complete list.

Q: What other restrictions are in place?

  • Mass gatherings (groups of five or more) are prohibited.
  • A 14-day quarantine order remains in place for out-of-state airport arrivals.
  • Short-term vacation rentals shall limit guests to New Mexico residents only.

Q: When may I leave my house?

A: You may leave your home for these reasons:

  • For work, although telework is encouraged.
  • To conduct “necessary activities” – obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor, purchasing necessary supplies such as groceries and personal hygiene products, picking up educational supplies from your child’s school or providing necessary care and supplies to family members in another household.
  • You may leave your house to take a walk, or jog or to walk the dog. But you may not do these things in groups. And you should limit your time outside.

Q: Are there additional limitations on retail stores allowed to operate?

A: Yes. Retail operations must help customers comply with 6-foot social distancing.

Q: Won’t that result in lines outside those stores?

A: Should customers need to wait outside a retail space, they must comply with social distancing protocols including the requirement to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other individuals and avoid person-to-person contact.

Q: Are hotels, motels and other places of lodging still open?

A: Yes. Hotels, motels, RV parks, and the like may remain open but per the governing public health order, they must limit occupancy to no more than 25 percent of maximum occupancy.

Q: What is considered a “mass gathering” under the order?

A: A mass gathering is defined as any public or private gathering that brings together five or more individuals in a single room or connected space or an outdoor space where people are within 6 feet of each other. The order banning mass gatherings was extended to May 31.

Q: Are there any exemptions to the 5-or-more rule?

A: Yes. If five or more people live together, they are exempt inside their residence.

Q: How long will this order be in place?

A: The order is effective through May 31.

Q: What about government services?

A: This order does not change the status of state and local government operations. Previous orders exempted all persons necessary to maintain the operations of state and local governments. State government has already moved to a largely telework system; local government agencies are strongly encouraged to do the same.

Q: Is there a curfew associated with the order?

A: No.

Businesses and Taxes

Q: My employer is not following the rules. What do I do?

A: If you wish to report non-compliance within a business, a violation of the mass gatherings ban, or other violations of the public order, you may report them to covid.enforcement@state.nm.us or contact your local police or sheriff’s department on their non-emergency phone lines. When submitting a non-compliance complaint, please provide the following:

  • Date and time of observed violation
  • City
  • County
  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • The nature of the violation or complaint

Schools and Child Care

Q: My school is providing free grab-and-go meals, instructional materials and supplies, and child care. Are those still open?

A: Yes.

Q: Are child care services still open? Can my babysitter still come to the house?

A: Yes. Previous restrictions limiting who could use child care services were eased in the May 1 order. Child care services are now available to families operating both essential and non-essential businesses as well as nonprofit entities, protective services, behavioral health and/or juvenile justice services.

Child care facilities that remain open must employ heightened cleaning and distancing requirements.

Other Services

Q: Can I go to the park?

A: State parks are reopening on a modified day-use-only basis as staff is available. Camping and visitor centers are still closed. Municipal parks were never required to close. However, groups of five or more are prohibited there.

Q: Will public roads be closed?

A: No. All streets, roads and highways will remain open.

Q: What about public transportation?

A: Public transportation is considered an essential service; it will continue to operate.

Q: How does the order affect people who are homeless?

A: Previous orders exempted those who are homeless, and that has not changed. Like everyone, they are encouraged to practice social distancing of at least 6 feet.

Services that provide for the homeless, like shelters, may remain open. 

Q: Can I still get my mail and deliveries?

A: Yes. Mail is considered an essential government function, and businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences are considered essential businesses.

Health Care and Helping Sick Relatives

Q: Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

A: The Department of Health’s March 13, 2020, public health order states that visitors are only allowed at nursing homes and other facilities that care for seniors if they are receiving end-of-life care and the visitor meets certain conditions (i.e. temperature taken at the entrance).

Many hospitals are implementing modified visitation policies. Check with the specific hospital location about what the policy is at this time.

Q: My medical procedure has been on hold since this began. When can I get my medically necessary surgery?

A: Under the May 1 order, medical facilities may gradually resume non-essential (but medically necessary) procedures, including ambulatory and in-patient surgeries. To do so, each facility must follow Health Department guidelines to assure there is no waste of personal protective equipment and to assure the health and safety of patients and healthcare workers. 

Q: May I get a dental cleaning?

A: The Health Department released guidelines on the resumption of non-essential (but medically necessary) dental services and procedures the week of May 3. 

Q: May I still go out to get my prescriptions?

A: Yes. Pharmacies remain open, as do medical marijuana dispensaries.

Q: Can I leave home to care for family members or friends who have disabilities, or who require assistance to care for themselves?

A: Yes. Be sure that you protect them and yourself by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and then washing your hands. If you have any symptoms of a cold, however, please stay away.

Outdoor Recreation/Exercise

Q: Can I still go outside for a hike or walk?

A: Yes, but you must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet with those outside of your family unit. 

Gyms, fitness centers, recreational centers, swimming pools and skating rinks remain closed. Golf courses may reopen for golf only.


Q: Can I take my pet to the vet or groomer?

A: Yes. The May 1 order allows veterinary services to resume along with other pet services, including grooming, animal daycare and boarding.

Copyright New Mexico Department of Health