Hospitality industry, travelers worried over new COVID restrictions | KOB 4
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Hospitality industry, travelers worried over new COVID restrictions

Brittany Costello
Created: October 13, 2020 10:25 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The airline and hospitality industries are expected to take another hit as a result of rising COVID cases in New Mexico.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced new restrictions Tuesday that would decrease capacity limits for hotels and require stricter quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers.

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As travel at the Sunport has slowed to a crawl, it has created a ripple effect on the hospitality industry.

“You’ll see many, many hotels close and some of these hotels are very, very close to giving up because there's just not any other hope out there. We just cannot keep taking on additional debt,” said Imesh Vaidya, CEO of Premier Hospitality.

Per the new order, hotel occupancy can be no greater than 60 percent for places of lodging that have completed the New Mexico Safe Certified training program. That number was previously at 75 percent. Hotels that haven’t completed the training program will have to reduce occupancy limits from 50 percent to 25 percent. 

Vaidya said they are lucky to get 40-percent, even though it’s a level where they’re not breaking even.

“Today we just got, and I’ll just have a graphic, we just got our property tax bills for November, which we're not going to be able to pay,” he said.

While occupancy limits don’t have a huge impact at this point, travel restrictions do. The state is requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people traveling to New Mexico from a  high-risk state. A state is classified as high-risk if it has a test positivity rate exceeding 5 percent.

The new restrictions have some travelers like Gabriella Lovato a little anxious for the upcoming holiday travel season.

“We're all nervous, but at the same time I think my family is most important, and we're going to take every precaution we can—hand sanitizer, masks, trusting that the airlines are doing their jobs, too,” Lovato said.

Other travelers that KOB 4 spoke with said they won’t be canceling their holiday plans, but will still comply with the new guidelines.

“I’m hoping to get on a cruise for Christmas. I'm already booked,” said Suzannah Noonan.

As for the hospitality industry, the slow travel season and even slower winter season makes for a long road ahead. Desperate for federal aid, Vaidya said they’re all just trying to hang on.

"I realize this is a pandemic. I realize this is a health concern for the state and we want to keep everyone healthy and safe but unfortunately we cannot just close our doors and sit tight until it goes away. There has to be a balance between economic viability and patient safety,” he said.

Starting Friday, passengers will have to quarantine if they’re traveling from a high risk state. 


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