PORTALES (KSEL)- Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a new public health emergency order re-enacting emergency public health restrictions on high-contact indoor environments, such as dine-in seating at restaurants.
Small businesses across the state have taken a financial hit and employees now face uncertainty as to when the state will begin to reopen again.
In the hopes of receiving state government attention, citizens of Portales took to the streets to display their disapproval. A group of approximately 60 people stood outside of a local restaurant peacefully protesting the public health orders restricting indoor dining.
General Manager of Cattle Baron in Portales, Ashley Flores, organized the protest in hopes to “fight for my employees demonstrate that their jobs are important too”.
“Look, small businesses are suffering. I’ve had to let go of all 35 employees since March and because we are one of the smaller locations in the chain, we weren’t even able to open up for curbside dining. I believe that for myself and my employees of our community have the right to be able to work as essential workers too. By taking this away from small businesses is just wrong. We will comply to all guidelines just to be able to open our doors once again.”
A number of small business owners in Portales were scene at the protest as well. All in the same predicament.
According to a June 19 press release from the New Mexico Workforce Connection, New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in May 2020, down from 11.9 percent in April and up from 4.9 percent the previous year.
Losses came from both the public and the private sector. The private sector was down 84,600 jobs or 12.6 percent. The public sector was down 3,500 jobs or 1.8 percent. Losses were reported in both components of the private sector. The private service-providing industries were down 76,300 jobs or 13.5 percent, while the goods-producing industries were down 8,300 jobs representing a decrease of 8.0 percent.
In the past two weeks, the state has seen 3,049 new positive cases of COVID-19, representing 20.2% of the total positive cases statewide over the course of the pandemic, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.
“I know this news is a tough pill to swallow for many New Mexicans,” stated Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. “This public health crisis has been an overwhelming challenge for all of us – not least business-owners and workers whose lives and livelihoods have been upended as this virus spreads. But as I’ve said many times throughout this pandemic: We will not wait, as a state, for the worst to occur to make the hard decisions. We will not wait for rising cases to turn into rising hospitalizations and deaths as in our neighboring states.