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Albuquerque Turns Green, Relaxing Restrictions at City Facilities

Convention Center and aquarium reopen, programming and capacity expand at many civic facilities.

May 1, 2021

Today, Mayor Tim Keller, City officials, and David Estrada, a representative from the Somos Unidos Foundation discussed what’s at stake for the metro area as we push first to Green, then aim for Turquoise status under the State’s new Public Health Order. The metro is on the cusp of returning to fully open, and for the first time in over a year, facilities like the Convention Center, movie theatres, venues, and bars can open their doors. City leaders discussed what the move to Green means for expanded capacity at civic facilities.

“Our move to Green shows that we are nearing the finish line. If we continue getting vaccinated, we’ll all be back together again rooting on the United and the Topes and celebrating the culture and events that make life in Albuquerque so special,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “For the first time in over a year, a safe and full reopening appears well within reach.”

In the Green category, the Albuquerque Convention Center can now operate at 25% indoor and 50% outdoor capacity. With its large and airy interior spaces, the Center’s Kiva Auditorium and Ballroom will be able to host events up to 500 people, and in its exhibit halls, used for things like conventions and graduations, 2,000 guests will be allowed to participate.

“Getting to Green is huge news for the Convention Center, and for our surrounding downtown businesses” said José Garcia, General Manager of the Albuquerque Convention Center. “We already have conventions and tournaments scheduled and will be getting more shows, weddings, and quinceaneras on the books for the spring and summer. Safety and cleanliness have always been our guiding principles and we are ready and excited to host these events and maintain our space following CDC best-practices.”

The Convention Center is an anchor for the downtown economy, bringing people from across the state, country, and world, into downtown Albuquerque who stay in our hotels and patronize surrounding businesses. The convention center already has graduation ceremonies planned for May, as well as conventions and shows booked for the spring and summer.

Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Albuquerque, Dr. Shelle Sánchez provided updates on new programing and capacity at city facilities. At the BioPark, the Albuquerque Aquarium and other indoor exhibits like the BUGarium, Reptile House, Penguin Chill, and Botanic Garden desert conservatory are reopening on May 12th at 25% capacity after being closed for 14 months. The Zoo and Botanic Gardens have raised the number of tickets available, increasing daily capacity from 4200 to 5600 at each location and are adding evening hours from June through Labor Day. The Albuquerque Museum is also increasing the number of tickets available to 55 per half hour. Advanced ticketing at the BioPark and Museum are still required. On June 1, Explora will re-open indoor exhibits and the Balloon Museum will open Elevation Station, a new interactive exhibit.

Beginning this month, the Albuquerque Museum Amphitheater will host live music on Sunday mornings and the Department’s Community Events team is planning a series of Welcome Back events around the city at the Railyards Courtyard, Civic Plaza, the KiMo, Balloon Museum, and Old Town. City libraries are also reopening seating areas, allowing guests to stay and read while maintaining social distance.

“So much of the culture of our city is rooted in gathering together to share experiences, music, food, and creative expression,” Said Dr. Sánchez. “We are so glad to bring these experiences back, and we look forward to even more openings. But it comes down to all of us. What we are able to do safely will depend on Burqueños continuing to go and get vaccinated.”

The City’s Parks and Recreation facilities are also expanding their capacity this month. Groups can now apply for permits to hold events of up to 20 people at select locations in City parks. Restrictions on golf courses have been relaxed for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The 15-minute tee time limit has been relaxed and courses with dining options can now operate at 50% indoor occupancy and 75% outdoor.

City pools can now accommodate 19 participants for swim lessons and have four swimmers from the same household per lane or two simmers from different households. The department will be announcing a reopening plan for recreational swimming at all City pools in the coming weeks. City open space can now accommodate more people as well. Open space summer youth programs can now accommodate groups of 20 students.

“Throughout the pandemic, we kept as many of our facilities open as we could because we knew the important role they play in the lives of Albuquerque residents,” said David Flores, Deputy Director of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation. “The move to Green means we are able to operate at higher capacity and we look forward to welcoming more guests back at our indoor and outdoor facilities.”

Participants in today’s media briefing stressed the importance of vaccination uptake for the safety of our community and in order to continue Albuquerque’s reopening. David Estrada, Community Outreach Leader for the Somos Unidos Foundation and former New Mexico United player spoke to the importance of vaccinations.

“Our players are so excited to see our fans back in the stadium. I want to commend the Mayor and the Governor for their leadership throughout this pandemic and acknowledge every single person who has already gotten the vaccine,” said David Estrada. “If we all continue to do our part we’ll have the Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park full again. Getting vaccinated is easy, free, and doesn’t require insurance. My family encouraged me to get the vaccine as soon as I could, and I’m so glad I did. Please encourage those around you to do the same, so we can protect our city and keep moving in the right direction. Sign up today at vaccinenm.org – Somos Unidos!”