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Youth Programming, Museum, BioPark See Capacity Increases Under New Yellow Guidelines

Lift on travel quarantine requirement could be lifeline for tourism, hotel businesses

Feb. 11, 2021

Mayor Tim Keller held a briefing today to discuss the changes that come with Albuquerque moving from “Red” to “Yellow” following the New Mexico Department of Health’s county-by-county reopening framework. The Albuquerque Metro area and Bernalillo County demonstrated a COVID-19 test positivity rate lower than 5%, allowing for less restrictive public health measures. Capacity will be increasing at City facilities including the BioPark, Albuquerque Museum, and City Golf Courses. Limited indoor dining is now allowed, as well as capacity increases for essential retail spaces, hotels and gatherings.

“It’s been a long, challenging year, and I think moving to yellow is bringing all of us Albuquerque residents a little bit of relief and hope today,” said Mayor Keller. “Our good news doesn’t mean we can let up; it shows that each of us plays a part in helping our town re-open. At the City, we began preparing weeks ago for these adjustments to facilities like our zoo, museums, golf courses and parks. We have provided services for seniors and youth throughout this pandemic, and are going to be able to expand these options now.”

The impact of the transition to yellow status will mean big increases in capacity for youth programs, which have continued to operate in limited capacity throughout the pandemic. Spots available in youth programs across four departments will increase by almost 3,000 openings.

Just in time for the opening of the world-class Mexican Modernist exhibit featuring the work of Frida Kahlo, the museum will be able to safely accommodate more than 3,000 extra people every week while still remaining well within state guidelines to ensure social distancing and comfort for guests.

Details on City services and facilities can be found at https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/documents/reopening-plan-red-yellow-green.pdf

Food and drink establishments can open indoor dining at 25% of maximum capacity and increase outdoor dining to 75% of maximum capacity. Masks should be worn while ordering and waiting for food. Establishments serving alcohol must close by 10 p.m. each night. Additionally, essential retail spaces can increase maximum capacity to 33%; close contact businesses can operate at 25% maximum capacity or 20 customers at one time, whichever is smaller; and other businesses can operate at 25% capacity or 125 customers at one time, whichever is smaller.

Felicia Meyer and Seth Beckley, with Thicc Pizza, one of the restaurants in the 505 Central Food Hall, said, “The support from the community has been remarkable. One of the hardest things for us as restaurant owners is the fear that we could end up going back into a shutdown if we aren’t careful. So it’s important for people to use those best practices, wear masks, practice social distancing so we don’t have to go through this again.”

Although restrictions remaining in place on convention centers will likely mean a lag in the recovery of downtown, the lifting of requirements that all travelers must quarantine could provide a needed lifeline to tourism and hotel businesses who have been hanging by a thread for much of the pandemic. Mayor Keller reminded potential visitors today that COVID testing and quarantining are still strongly recommended, and that some activities that Albuquerque is a leader in, including mountain-biking, hiking, skiing or other outdoor industries, are safer than others.

Nyika Allen, Aviation Director, said, “These restrictions were important, but they’ve certainly had a detrimental impact on travel. Travel through the Sunport was down over 98% at the height of the pandemic, and the impact in Albuquerque has been higher than the national average. We know New Mexicans are looking forward to traveling again, and while it will take time and demand to get back to full capacity at the Sunport, we’re there to provide for safe travel.”

Tania Armenta, President & CEO of Visit Albuquerque, said, “The Governor’s announcement lifting the mandatory quarantine is an important step forward in recovery for our city and industry. Our industry is focused on bringing tourism back in a safe, responsible way that helps keep our momentum moving forward. We are optimistic that the increased safety measures and innovation happening across the country will help us increase safe offerings, and we look forward to moving to green and beyond.”

The City continues to urge Albuquerque residents to get registered for the vaccine at vaccinenm.org and, when offered, to take the shot. The City’s Department of Senior Affairs is offering help to seniors who have not yet registered in navigating the site and getting signed up. Seniors are encouraged to call 3-1-1 for assistance.