BY PAUL GESSING
Rio Grande Foundation
In terms of her handling of the virus, the Rio Grande Foundation has been broadly supportive of Gov. Lujan Grisham and her efforts to address the ongoing crisis created by the Virus. We remain concerned about the economic situation New Mexico faces in the short, intermediate, and long terms, but understand (if we don’t always agree) with her handling of a nearly unprecedented situation.
That being said, some of the Gov.’s specific shutdown orders have questionable merits in terms of applying guidelines across various industries. We believe the following are unnecessary limiting to both personal freedom and needlessly preclude innovation on the part of business owners or others involved in maintaining parts of a functioning economy without unnecessarily endangering public health. Several of these recommendations have the added benefit of generating precious tax dollars for state/local governments and keeping workers employed.
- Reopen medical facilities to elective and outpatient medical procedures. Hospitals are reporting revenue declines of between 40 and 60 percent. This doesn’t even include dentists, eye doctors, and other health providers who seen their businesses shuttered and the patients who have no access to care.
- New Mexico’s 35 state parks have been shut down. Most outdoor activities involve social distancing at least beyond the 6 foot limit considered safe by medical professionals. Plus, with limited exercise and recreational options it would seem that some innovative solutions to get New Mexicans outside in a safe manner would be helpful.
- Golf courses are a great form of social distancing. Limits could be placed on various aspects of the game (such as the use of carts and the presence of flags and rakes), but golf is another recreational opportunity that appears to be unnecessarily precluded in the current situation.
- Nurseries should be free to open up provided they maintain social distancing guidelines. Planting flowers and gardening should be encouraged, not hindered during this difficult time.
- Gun stores should be allowed to remain open. This is not the time for the Gov. to use a crisis to implement anti-gun efforts unilaterally. Gun shops should be allowed to open if they maintain social distancing guidelines.
- Liquor stores have been shuttered while grocery stores remain open and are selling liquor. This makes no sense and has actually made shopping for groceries more difficult (and crowded) due to social distancing guidelines in place.
- In advance of the Easter Holiday New Mexico churches were limited to no more than 5 people. If grocery stores and others can remain open while implementing social distancing requirements, there is no reason churches should face stricter limitations.
- Restaurants that can comply with social distancing guidelines should be able to do so in a manner similar to grocery stores. They should also be allowed to sell and deliver liquor as part of their services during this crisis.