As Health Orders Take Effect, City Continues Focus on Keeping Safety Net In Place and Compliance at Big Box, Grocery Stores, Other Large Retailers

Targeted efforts to ensure reserved hours for seniors, limit hoarding and appropriate closures

Nov. 17, 2020

Over the last seven days, City of Albuquerque compliance officials conducted 277 compliance interactions with businesses and individuals around the State- and City-enacted Public Health Orders (PHO). That pushes the total compliance interactions, which involve warnings, notices of violation, and/or citations, to more than 3,000 since October.

The enforcement team visited big box and grocery stores both Saturday and Sunday focused on stopping hoarding by limiting the total number of essential items sold to each individual customer, and making sure retail businesses like hardware and grocery observed special hours for seniors and high-risk individuals.

At a briefing Tuesday, Fire Marshal Gene Gallegos said, “We found that in general we are seeing a high level of compliance with the existing orders on senior hours and hoarding. While there were one or two larger retailers who were initially resistant, we worked with them over the weekend and are confident heading into this week that they will remain in compliance—helping protect our seniors who face some of the highest risk of serious illness from COVID.”

The enforcement team also answered questions related to the new State PHO, which took effect this Monday. Answers to the most common questions include:

  • Outdoor, drive-in church services are permitted under the new PHO.
  • Large retailers can operate at 25% capacity or 75 customers, whichever is fewer, and non-essential businesses may operate to the extent necessary to provide curbside pick-up or delivery services.
  • Smoke shops are able to offer curbside order pickup only.
  • Liquor stores are closed.

This week the enforcement team is visiting non-essential businesses to advise them on the new PHO if they are open. Officials continue to respond to calls into 311 to investigate, ensure compliance, and issue notices of violation or citations if needed.

Throughout the spring and summer, Albuquerque stood apart from cities like Phoenix, Denver, Austin, and others as a model for community-driven COVID response that kept transmission rates, test positivity, hospital capacity and other factors under control.

A comparison of data between Albuquerqueu and other peer cities in the SW region.

A comparison of cumulative COVID statistics between Albuquerque and other peer cities in the SW region.

That early success has helped us make a case for Albuquerque as one of the healthiest cities in the country--and while the city is still in much better shape than most comparison communities, that is at risk as the next wave of COVID rises.

At today’s briefing, Mayor Tim Keller called on Albuquerque to fight to maintain that hard-earned status.

“As time went on we got tired. COVID fatigue is real, I feel it and I know many of you do as well. That fatigue can tempt us to just give up and take the risks. To put our own desire to see each other over our drive to protect to each other. But we can’t let that happen.”

Keller added, “Albuquerque knows how to put up a fight. We’ve already proven that if Burqueños commit to what we know works—staying home when possible, wearing masks, social distancing—we see the results. Let those results be the source of hope we need now to remember that our actions make a difference, and together we get to determine how safe and healthy our residents will be.”