NM Restaurant Association questions data behind indoor dining ban | KOB 4

NM Restaurant Association questions data behind indoor dining ban

Patrick Hayes
Updated: July 29, 2020 08:42 PM
Created: July 29, 2020 08:26 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Officials with the New Mexico Restaurant Association (NMRA) do not think the state has the data to back up its decision to ban indoor dining.

Earlier this month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said eating inside of restaurants was too risky-- even at 50% capacity.

According to the restaurant association, New Mexico is only one of three states that have completely eliminated indoor dining in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“I've seen pie charts on every single news channel say this is the data, this is the cause of the spread,” said Antonia Roybal-Mack, an attorney for NMRA.

However, Roybal-Mack said she doesn’t think the state has the information to support that claim.

“So we really need the data they’re looking at to understand how they’re making that correlation because we simply cannot," she said.

Restaurants are now suing the state for that information. However, attorneys for the New Mexico Department of Health have filed a motion to dismiss the case because they think they should have more time to complete the request.

Under the Inspection of Public Records Act, “A custodian receiving a written request shall permit the inspection immediately or as soon as is practicable under the circumstances, but not later than fifteen days after receiving a written request.”

Roybal-Mack told KOB 4 that information should be readily available because the governor uses it to make her decisions.

“It’s so important people read the fine print on those charts to understand this is one subsection of the data,” she said.

According to the state, restaurants make up 16% of New Mexico businesses with at least one COVID-19 positive employee.

However, that data is based on rapid response information published by the New Mexico Environment Department and equals about 5% of the total cases.

Based on the available data, restaurant workers make up less than 1% of the 20,136 cases in New Mexico.

KOB 4 asked the New Mexico Department of Health if there was another list or additional information the state was using to decide whether or not restaurants should reopen.

A spokesperson sent a link to the environment department’s website with rapid response data.

Additionally, attorneys for the state did not respond to KOB 4's request for comment.

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