Local restaurants frustrated at the wait, now preparing for dine-in business | KOB 4
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Local restaurants frustrated at the wait, now preparing for dine-in business

Tommy Lopez
Created: May 20, 2020 10:11 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There was both frustration on Wednesday and a collective sigh of relief as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the next step in New Mexico’s reopening process will begin June 1.

Restaurants will be allowed to do dine-in business and others, including salons, barber shops, gyms and malls, will be able to reopen -- with safety restrictions of course.

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Now, for restaurants, there’s a rush to prepare. Carol Wight, CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, says it’s nice to have a date on the calendar, but they hoped it’d be sooner.

“There’s frustration from different factions,” she said. “Before having this information a lot of restaurants were headed into desperation, and so, right now, with the information that we’re going to be able to open, I think they feel more like they have something to look forward to.” 

They’re preparing by getting PPE supplies, social distancing setups and training and some have to get employees back and food restocked.

Masks and gloves shouldn’t be a problem, according to Wight, who says suppliers tell them they’re ready to deliver.

The restaurant association has more requests for the governor’s office.

It doesn’t want the dine-in limit to be based on a percentage of the capacity. It would like to just rely on the 6-feet of spacing rule. Some restaurants say they’re putting in barriers like plexiglass.

It would also like for outdoor dining to open up, when it can be done safely.

“We know that there’s a certain portion of the public that will not be comfortable going into restaurants immediately, and we understand that,” Wight said. “But for those of you who are ready to get out and start living your life again, we really appreciate your patronage and restaurants will be ready for you.”

The number of restaurants that are expected to close for good is at 210 in our state, according to the association.

Gov. Grisham, in her update Wednesday afternoon, said officials believe New Mexico is past the peak of cases, but she still wants to be cautious.

“Until there’s a vaccine for this nation and all states meet their gating criteria, we have to be cognizant about the controls that we can put in place to keep New Mexicans as safe as possible, and allow us to keep opening businesses without having us to take a step backward,” she said.

Grisham reiterated that she does not want a situation where we reopen in certain areas, then have to close them back down because we face another spike in cases.


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