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Mayor’s Executive Order Steps Up to Put City on Firm Footing for Long Pandemic Fight

New order spells out smart, targeted enforcement of high-risk activity that could contribute to virus spread

July 15, 2020

Mayor Tim Keller signed a new emergency declaration that puts the City on a firm footing to fight the Coronavirus pandemic and take steps necessary to protect public health. The order lays out the specific, targeted enforcement mechanisms for the state’s public health order requiring face coverings in public places and how the City will focus its personnel and resources to ensure compliance–especially in City facilities with high degrees of risk, like the Sunport and City Buses.

In an innovative move, the City will also utilize non-law enforcement personnel, including Code Enforcement Division of the Planning Department, Open Space personnel, Transit Security personnel, Parking Enforcement personnel, Environmental Health Department personnel, and the Fire Marshal’s Office of Albuquerque Fire Rescue to enforce the order. This mirrors a move to create a first-of-its-kind unarmed third community response department, called Albuquerque Community Safety, to make the most of all available resources and de-escalate interactions between enforcement officials and the public.

“During this resurgence, it’s critical that we carve our own path for Albuquerque to keep each other safe,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “For the City, that means preparing for the long haul, with consistent and strong tools to bolster public health orders, while continuing to step up for those deeply impacted by the human and economic costs. This dual approach is a strategy for pandemic resilience as we move into this next chapter to again flatten the curve.”

The updated order focuses particularly on high-risk activity that is known to help spread the virus more quickly: people travelling into or out of the state, especially when that travel goes to hotspots including Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. If visitors to the Sunport refuse to wear a face covering after being informed of the order, under criminal trespassing codes they will be subject to citation and/or immediate removal from the facility. Visitors to City facilities may also be required to provide proof of residency to access cultural and recreation facilities.

The order also requires big box stores and major commercial or industrial sites to enforce the order requiring masks—a basic public health precaution that is one of the few demonstrated methods of slowing transmission. The City has already worked to educate and inform local big box stores and other businesses about the requirements, and has made $1,000,000 available to local businesses and non-profits to purchase PPE for employees and customers.

Now, the new order gives the City the ability to focus enforcement in a strategic way, up to and including closing down sites that refuse to self-regulate or become hotspots for virus transmission. By engaging businesses to be proactive, the City frees up APD resources to remain focused on fighting violent crime.

Fire Marshal Gene Gallegos discussed the City’s ongoing enforcement efforts, saying, “Our goal is compliance, not punishment, so we’re reaching out proactively to hundreds of businesses and the public to get information out as quickly as possible and support their efforts to inform their customers. With the Fire Marshal’s Office, Code Enforcement, Environmental Health, and City Security, this is truly an innovative, targeted, and citywide approach.”

City health officials acknowledged an expectation that as the pandemic continues to expand nationally, Albuquerque, the only metro area for 1,000 square miles, is bracing for increasing and sustained new cases that may continue for months, even with strict health orders.

Mayor Keller said, “We know our families, frontline workers, and local businesses are facing real fatigue, and we must come together more than ever and brace for a long, tough fight. As a local government, we’ll be working to keep our city and economy running should these restrictions last months longer. Wearing a face covering, putting off travel, staying home if we have the luxury, ordering takeout instead of sitting in crowds—these minor inconveniences have major implications for defeating the virus. We know it can be done because we were doing it—hitting these targets and moving forward. This setback shows how vigilant we have to be—and calls us to see it through.”

Click to read the new executive order.

Later this week, Mayor Keller will announce a major City initiative supporting local restaurants seeking to expand their outdoor dining capacity.