As concerns increase that lockdowns and business closures may prove to be a greater threat than the novel coronavirus they are meant to temper, a city in New Mexico has declared a state of emergency and urged local businesses to reopen.
On Wednesday, Mayor Nate Duckett declared the city of Farmington to be an “economic emergency area as a result of COVID-19.”
Although Mayor Duckett’s declaration commends Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham “for exhibiting decisive leadership in the face of a global public health emergency by educating New Mexicans on their role to flatten the curve and protect the integrity of our health care system through social distancing, preventative hygiene practices, and the stay at home order,” it calls on her to “consider immediate modification of public health orders to permit all businesses to reopen at 20% maximum occupancy.”
In the declaration, Duckett states that “an economic disaster” has been created by Governor Grisham’s order defining ‘essential’ and ‘non–essential’ businesses which he says “unjustly dictates winners and losers by discriminating against small businesses and specialized retailers.”
“The Mayor respectfully asks Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to consider an immediate modification of public health orders to restore functioning parts of our local economy that do not endanger public health, proliferate innovation into our workforce and businesses, and support the municipalities that provide critical services to the public,” the declaration goes on.
Mayor Duckett further explained that these businesses “employ, pay wages and provide health care benefits to a large portion of the state’s workforce,” according to a press release from the city.
“Closures of these businesses has led to the highest levels of unemployment in our state’s history and will lead to higher rates of poverty and negative outcomes for families and children,” the release adds.
Mayor Duckett announced and read the declaration in a video shared on Facebook.
“Unfortunately, this public health crisis has now led to an economic crisis,” Duckett said, prefacing the declaration and noting that the declaration was crafted “in consultation with a number of local business owners and others throughout the state.”
“This is by no means a perfect plan, but it is a conversation starter that I believe every mayor in the state of New Mexico needs to start having with the governor’s office to ensure we can get our economy up and running sooner rather than later, but do it safely and in consultation with healthcare providers and experts across the state,” Duckett said.
“But a level playing field is what’s needed right now. For essential and nonessential businesses—they’re all essential. Their employees are essential, their owners are essential, the wages they pay are essential, and we need to get them back to work at the same levels as the ‘essential’ businesses as deemed by the governor,” Duckett concluded. “We’ve still got a ways to go, but I know we can get there together.
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