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City Council Introduces Updates to City Emergency Laws; Provides for New Public Health Powers to Address Potential Coronavirus Outbreaks

Albuquerque, NM – As a part of the City of Albuquerque’s preparedness for a potential COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, the Albuquerque City Council will consider new legislation expanding the City’s emergency powers to include new provisions addressing public health emergencies.

O-20-4, introduced today by City Council President Pat Davis, updates the City’s existing Civil Emergency Powers Act (2-9-1-1) by granting the Mayor new powers to declare public health emergencies and reallocate City resources, subject to cancellation or amendment by the City Council. Councilor Davis will ask the Council to invoke its emergency meeting provisions to allow the bill to be introduced and voted on at Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“We want to be sure that the City has all the resources and tools necessary to respond to any potential outbreak,” said Councilor Davis. “Without this legislation, the City’s ability to redeploy staff or funds from one area to another or repurpose City facilities could be delayed by the need for individual actions through the city council. This legislation ensures that City leaders can respond quickly, if needed.”

 What this legislation does:

  • Establishes a new type of emergency: “An actual or eminent outbreak, or reasonable threat of an actual or eminent outbreak, of any infectious disease that presents an unusual threat to the health or safety of the residents of the City, or threatens to unreasonably strain the medical or emergency services resources available in the City;
  •  Allows the Mayor to declare a public health emergency, for up to seven (7) days, subject to cancellation, amendment or extension by the City Council;
  • Grants the Mayor new powers under an emergency, including:
    • Order the closing of places of mass assembly, including theaters, clubs and performance and athletic venues
    • Order the closing of places of institutional childcare or education such as daycares, preschools, and private educational institutions
    • Order that places of private employment take reasonable measures (as determined by each employer) to minimize any exposures to unusual infectious diseases or health risks to employees by, for example, partial or full closures, or authorizing non-essential employees to work from home or take leave
    • Order the redistribution or rededication of city resources and budgetary appropriations as necessary to address or combat the proclaimed emergency
    • Issue such other orders as are imminently necessary for the protection of life and property
  • To provide for public notice and transparency, the mayor is required to publish all orders under this section online and provide them to the City Council.

What this legislation does not do:

  • Allow the seizure or commandeering of private property
  • Allow the mayor to quarantine any person

“If or when an outbreak happens, our residents and our partners at the state, county, and in the health care community rely on the City to use all of its resources to help,” said Councilor Davis. “This legislation makes it clear that our City takes any potential health threat seriously and we can take action to minimize the disruption and impact for our residents.”

 Anyone with questions about Coronavirus is encouraged to consult the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at: or contact the New Mexico Department of Health through their hotline at (855) 600-3453.