As businesses grapple with face covering policies, many New Mexicans continue wearing masks

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Policies about face coverings vary in New Mexico.

The state, Santa Fe and Albuquerque are complying with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, which says vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask in most settings. However, the agency recommends that unvaccinated people wear masks to avoid contracting COVID-19.

Businesses in New Mexico are allowed to create their own mask policies.

Page 1 Books is still requiring staff and customers to wear a mask.

"Not all of our employees are fully vaccinated yet, a few people are still waiting on their two weeks and we know our patrons aren’t vaccinated either," said Ian Carillo, manager of Page 1 Books. "We also have a couple employees who are immune compromised."

As of Monday, 52% of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated. However, Carrillo would like that number to be higher before considering changing the mask policy in the store.

"Until those numbers climb a little bit higher, we figure we’ve had the mandate in place for over a year– what’s the harm in continuing a little bit further," he said.

Many people in New Mexico are still wearing masks — even at places where it’s no longer required.

Dr. Ann Waldorf, vice chair of Behavioral Sciences at the University of New Mexico, said wearing a mask has been instilled into people.

"Now we’re saying, ‘okay now you don’t have to worry about that anymore,’ and change is hard," Waldorf explained.

Waldorf said people also may elect to wear a mask because no one is being forced to prove they are vaccinated.

"What we are hearing are words like it’s on the honor system, so I think we aren’t in a time where we are so trusting of one another," Waldorf insisted.

Carrillo said they would rather rely on masks than the honor system.

"I hope people understand that this is for a good reason," he said. "We are not trying to be oppressive or take away anybody’s freedoms, we’re just making sure we have the safest space available."