Using new authority granted Monday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller on Wednesday declared a public health emergency in the city.
In a video announcement, Keller said the decision “frees up financial resources for our city and flexibility so we can deal with this situation the best way possible.” It allows his administration to allocate city staff as necessary to address the current COVID-19 pandemic and for the city to make “emergency procurements” to protect the health and safety of citizens and property.
It also serves as a request for state and federal assistance.
An ordinance passed earlier this week by the Albuquerque City Council would enable him to close streets, day cares and places of mass assembly during a public health emergency. It also grants Keller authority to order retailers to per person/per day sales limits on health, medical and sanitation products.
His Wednesday declaration does not invoke any of those powers specifically but does say he could issue “other orders as are imminently necessary.”
Keller’s video said his action does not “do anything with respect to firearms or alcohol sales.” And a news release specifically said it would not mean closing the streets.
City Council President Pat Davis said the present circumstances necessitate the move.
“At the moment, we aren’t seeing cases of community spread (of COVID-19), so I think the mayor’s declaration is appropriately reserved for now,” Davis said in a written statement. “But at least now we have the power to ramp up our city response as those first community spread cases emerge.”
Keller said in his video the city would continue to provide critical services during the emergency.
“I know our city can get through this. I know that united we are actually very good a dealing with crisis,” he said. “We are a strong and resilient city.”