New Mexico Sets New Mask Mandate, COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

New Mexico is reinstating a statewide mask mandate for all public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) announced on Tuesday.

The new rule, issued by Acting Health Secretary David R. Scrase, applies to everyone in the state aged 2 and older. Masks have to be worn in all indoor public settings—except when eating or drinking, according to a statement issued by the governor’s office.

“We all have a role to play. No one wants to go backward. No one wants to see our recovery endangered by another—and preventable—surge of serious illness,” said Grisham. “So mask up indoors to stop the spread,” she added.

Prior to the mandate, officials only recommended vaccinated individuals to continue wearing a mask in indoor spaces, while those not vaccinated were required to wear them in indoor public settings.

In addition, Grisham’s office also announced that more people will be mandated to get a COVID-19 vaccine, such as workers at hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile justice facilities, among other places.

“Given the slowing of vaccination rates since a peak several months ago … the state will issue a requirement for all workers in certain medical close-contact congregate settings—including hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile justice facilities, rehabilitation facilities, state correctional facilities and more—to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” the statement reads.

All staff at private, public, and charter schools in the state are also required to get either vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, it added.

The Democratic governor’s latest public order was announced as health officials said COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state have risen to a 6-month high as of Aug. 16 and some state facilities have reached, or exceeded 100 percent capacity.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, 75 percent of New Mexicans aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 66 percent of the state’s population over 18 has been fully vaccinated.