New Mexico officials on Wednesday restricted any gatherings of 10 or more people and has ordered restaurants to only provide takeout service and delivery.
State public health officials also ordered all casinos and horse racing facilities closed, along with their attendant restaurant or bar operations, until April 10.
That order does not apply to casinos operating on sovereign indigenous lands. However, all of the casinos in the Española and Pojoaque valleys have closed.
Starting early Monday morning, Pueblo of Pojoaque officials closed casinos at Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino, Cities of Gold Casino and Jake’s Casino, until March 28.
A March 14 press release states there have been no known cases of COVID-19 at any Pueblo of Pojoaque businesses. However, officials suspended operations at the three casinos, collectively one of the area’s largest employers, “out of an abundance of caution.”
“Our highest priority has always been the health and safety of our Team Members, our Guests and our Community,” Gov. Joseph Talachy said in a press release.
The Santa Claran Hotel Casino and the Ohkay Casino then closed on Wednesday (3/18), according to the companies' websites. The Ohkay Casino website states it will remain closed through April 1. The Santa Claran Hotel Casino website does not specify when it will reopen.
The closures come as about 18 percent of American adults reported they had been laid off or that their work hours had been cut, according to a survey released Tuesday by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist.
Pueblo of Pojoaque casino workers will be paid during the two-week closure, according to the release. All other businesses and social service programs operated by the Pueblo will remain open, it states, as well as the three hotels in the Pueblo.
“Our team is committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for all our customers and our employees,” Talachy said. “Know that as our forefathers always did, we shall flourish and thrive long after this time has passed.”
Elijah Baca, CEO of the Santa Claran Hotel Casino, did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.
On Monday, state Department of Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel amended the existing public health order restricting public gatherings to slow the spread of the virus.
Then on Wednesday, the order was amended again closing restaurants to dine-in customers. The order includes brewers, eateries and other food establishments.
The order limits the sale of over-the-counter medications, durable medical equipment, baby formula, diapers, sanitary care procuts and hygiene products to three packaged items per person. It also restricts hotels and other lodging companies to operate at 50 percent capacity.
The state public health order defines a mass gathering as any public or private gathering that brings together 10 or more people in a single room or connected space in close proximity to one another, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theaters or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.
The order prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people but does not apply to airports, shelters, retail or grocery stores, courthouses, jails, prisons, hospitals and other facilities.
"The provisions of this emergency public health order are now being enforced by the New Mexico Environment Department, Regulation and Licensing Department, Department of Homeland Security and (New Mexico) State Police," a Department of Health press release states. "These agencies are increasing surveillance of establishments to monitor and enforce compliance. Failure to comply will result in civil or criminal penalties, including a possibility of loss of licensure."