With COVID-19 cases still rising in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, extended her public health emergency order through at least April 30.

The amended order further restricts business operations as a means of combating continued congregating in spaces outside the home. The order became effective at 8 a.m. on April 7.

Additional entities that are deemed non-essential in-person operations are automobile dealerships, payday lenders and liquor stores.

New Mexicans are instructed to stay at home except for emergency or essential outings, and non-essential businesses must remain closed.

The amended order includes a new requirement that all retail operations that are considered essential businesses shall limit occupancy in their retail spaces.

The maximum number of customers in the retail space must be equal to 20 percent or less of the maximum occupancy of the retail space, as determined by the relevant fire marshal or fire department.

Customers waiting outside of a retail space, must do so in compliance with social distancing protocols including the requirement that they maintain a distance of at least six feet from other individuals and avoid person-to-person contact.

Hotels, motels, RV parks, and other places of lodging shall not operate at more than 25 percent of maximum occupancy, per the amended order. This is reduced from 50 percent.

Businesses seeking clarity on essential or non-essential status may send inquiries to covid.exemption@state.nm.us.

Reports of non-compliance can be made to NMSP.COVID19@state.nm.us or to your local police or sheriff’s department’s non-emergency line. There are civil and criminal penalties for violating a public health order.

“We must carry on undaunted in our fight against COVID-19,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “These measures will help us prevent a sudden spike in infections that would overwhelm our healthcare system. This virus is still spreading, and we must remain vigilant about physical distancing from one another. And we will ramp up enforcement of non-compliance.”

The extension also applies to a series of public health orders issued by Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel because their duration was linked to the executive order. Those orders include:

Limiting nursing home visitation;

Limiting mass gatherings;

Closing casinos, horse-racing facilities and restaurants and bars (except for pickup and delivery) and restricting hotel and motel operations;

Closing all non-essential businesses and nonprofits;

Prohibiting non-essential health care services to conserve personal protective equipment for COVID-19 workers; and

Regulating the sale and distribution of personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 related shortages.

The extension of physical distancing guidelines is designed to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases overall and to postpone a surge in cases for as long as possible.

The longer the surge can be delayed, the smaller it will be and the more time the state will have to increase the number of hospital beds and medical supplies.

The Department of Health has recommended that New Mexicans wear cloth, non-medical masks when traveling outside the home for essential outings in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC has advised “the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.