Roundhouse visitors will have to show proof of vaccination, wear masks

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Proof of full vaccination will be required for any member of the public to enter the Capitol building in Santa Fe during the upcoming special session and regular session.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Raúl Burciaga, director of the New Mexico Legislative Council.

“Given the high number of COVID-19 cases across the state and the strain this continues to put on state resources, it is incumbent on us to protect everyone in the Capitol complex while conducting the state’s business,” Burciaga said. “I believe the measures being taken for the special and regular sessions will allow for the work to get done while greatly minimizing the risk for COVID spread.”

Here is a breakdown of the policies:

  • The Roundhouse will remain open to members of the public for the special and regular sessions.
  • Proof of full vaccination will be required for any member of the public to enter the Capitol.
  • The Rotunda will not be used for displays, booths, presentations, special days, etc.
  • Pages will not be used by the House or Senate.
  • No tours will be conducted or allowed in the Capitol.
  • Masks will continue to be required throughout the Capitol Complex.

Officials confirmed there will still be virtual options for public comment.

“Virtual participation in the legislative process will continue while the policies announced today allow for the safe reopening of our state’s Capitol to all New Mexicans so they have the access they deserve to their elected leaders and the legislative process," House Speaker Brian Egolf said. "The past two years have brought much change due to the pandemic and security concerns related to dangerous partisan rhetoric and the January 6 insurrectionists, but none of this will stop us from doing the people’s work.”

The vaccine requirement will not apply to legislators, according to a spokesperson for the New Mexico House Democrats.

In addition to the policies above, state lawmakers voted earlier this month to ban guns and other weapons from the Roundhouse. The ban will go into effect Dec. 6, the first day of the upcoming special session on redistricting.

Senate Republican Leader, Sen. Greg Baca and Senate Republican Whip, Sen. Craig Brandt, issued the following statement in response to the announced policy:

“This policy set forth by the Legislative Council Service, at the directive of the Democrat leaders of the legislature, is another overt attempt to operate without accountability from the public.

We strongly oppose this decision as one that is antithetical to our transparent legislative process. Just one year after the Capitol was surrounded by a fence, barring the people from their house, the leaders of the legislature are yet again erecting a barrier to New Mexican’s access to their government.

This is not a COVID driven policy. If it was, the clear evidence of vaccinated individual’s ability to spread the virus would negate the reasoning for the rule. Instead, COVID has proven to be an effective means by which the political elites can justify their power grabs and limit public access and participation.

Following the Governor’s loss in the Supreme Court, we are tasked with appropriating an additional $1 billion. There has never been a more important time to ensure the public is present and heard, as their money is spent.

Shame on those behind this decision. The people of New Mexico will not be fooled by your theatrics, and we call on you to immediately rescind this arbitrary and discriminatory policy.”