Updated: November 06, 2020 10:16 PM
Created: November 06, 2020 09:02 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A New Mexico funeral home was given a 5,000 fine for failing to comply with the public health order.
New Mexico State Police cited Getz Funeral Home in Las Cruces on Friday for violating the governor's public health order.
The home was hosting a service for Tom Mobley, who died from complications with COVID-19.
The manager says he thinks funeral homes should be considered a place of worship, which could have up to 40% capacity.
The state disagrees.
"The funeral home in question was planning to host a large event with COVID-positive individuals in attendance, as well as encouraging interstate travel with attendees from El Paso, in violation of the state public health order and executive order pertaining to mandatory quarantine for out of state travel," a spokesperson with the state said.
"The ultimate goal with religion is to pass away and be with God," said Chad Getz, general manager of Getz Funeral Home. "How close can you be to god than someone who went there. To me, that's the ultimate religious service."
The state amended its public health order Thursday and added funerals to its definition of mass gatherings.
But it was too late, according to the Las Cruces Sun News, about 60 people showed up at the funeral.
Gail Ruben, a certified thanatologist, someone who studies end of life issues, said a lot of funeral homes have started using technology because they can't accommodate large groups.
"So if you go to a number of funeral homes, they will have the capabilities in their chapels to do a livestream of a service," Ruben said.
And according to Ruben, funeral homes are not houses of worships.
"If the funeral was being held in a church, I think an argument could be made for the 40% percent capacity with the social distancing and whatnot, but it would have to be a religious service," she said.
If Getz doesn't scale back his operations, the state says he could be subject to another $5,000 fine.
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