New Mexico Governor Closes Roads to Coronavirus Hotspot

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File Toya Sarno Jordan

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) on Friday invoked the state’s Riot Control Act, closing roads leading into Gallup, the state’s hotspot of the Chinese coronavirus.

Grisham invoked the Riot Control Act, effectively barring nonessential travel to the city as a means to slow the spread of the virus, per requests from both outgoing Gallup Mayor Jackie McKinney and incoming Mayor Louis Bonaguidi:

“I recognize this request is unusual and constitutes a drastic measure, and the emergency powers set out under the Riot Control Act should be invoked sparingly,” said Bonaguidi said in a statement.

“However, the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order. Immediate action is necessary,” Bonaguidi added.

The order went into effect Friday, May 1, at 12 p.m and will expire Monday, May 4, at noon.

Per the press release:

Businesses in the city of Gallup will close from 5 p.m. through 8 a.m. Vehicles may only have a maximum of two individuals. Residents of the city should remain at home except for emergency outings and those essential for health, safety and welfare.

Gallup city police and McKinley County sheriff’s department will partner with New Mexico State Police and Department of Transportation to enforce the emergency order and road closures. The New Mexico National Guard will also provide support to this effort in a non-law enforcement capacity.

Anyone who fails to comply with the restrictions accompanying the Riot Control Act “is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense is guilty of a fourth-degree felony,” according to the press release.

Gallup is located in New Mexico’s McKinley County, which had 1,064 confirmed cases of the virus as of Saturday morning. The county’s cases account for nearly one-third of the state’s total positive cases.

Grisham on Friday extended the state’s stay-at-home order until Thursday, May 15, while easing restrictions on certain businesses previously deemed “nonessential.”

The state had 3,513 confirmed cases and 131 related deaths as of Saturday morning, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

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