Update: 5:42 p.m.
In a day of whiplash rulings for New Mexico restaurants, the state Supreme Court granted the state's emergency request to stay the order issued earlier Monday by a district judge in Carlsbad that would have temporarily allowed indoor dining service. The stay, requested by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, means her earlier health order a few days ago closing indoor dining service to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will remain in effect until further action by the Supreme Court.
A state District Judge temporarily blocked New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s ban on indoor dining Monday (July 20).
The New Mexico Restaurant association, along with Red River Brewing and several other businesses, filed a motion in court challenging the governor’s recent order to re-close indoor dining at restaurants due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases.
The temporary order granted by Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Raymond Romero prevents the state from enforcing the limitations on indoor dining at least until a hearing scheduled for July 30 in the case.
“It gives people in New Mexico a choice again that was taken away from them for arbitrary and capricious reasons,” said Red River Brewing co-owner Michael Calhoun about the decision.
Calhoun said the restaurant would open for indoor seating July 21 and will be adhering to strict sanitation protocols to ensure the safety of guests and employees.
According to the governor's director of communications Tripp Stelnicki, the state has filed a motion to the New Mexico Supreme Court to keep the indoor seating ban in place.
"Sustained indoor contact in an environment where face-coverings cannot be worn, such as at restaurants, is unsafe," Stelnicki said in an email. "A bad ruling by a judge doesn't change that."
Restaurants were allowed to operate at half of their normal indoor capacity based on the governor’s June 30 public health order. Then on July 9, the governor reversed that order to again ban indoor dining due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
According to Romero’s decision, the 50 percent of indoor capacity is the number restaurants will be allowed to operate at for the next ten days.
Along with the Restaurant Association and Red River Brewing Company, Outlaw Meats in Fort Sumner, K-Bobs and the Trinity Hotel in Carlsbad are listed as the applicants in the complaint.
The restraining order expires July 30, 2020.
This is a developing story.