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Taos Town Council imposes nighttime curfew

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Dan Barrone

SANTA FE – In an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, the Town Council in Taos on Friday voted unanimously to impose a nighttime curfew until the council’s next meeting on April 14 at which time extending the curfew will be considered again.

Mayor Dan Barrone declared a civil and health emergency on Thursday that put the curfew into effect. But the declaration was only good for 48 hours, requiring a special meeting Friday to extend the curfew.

“Like other communities around our great state of New Mexico, we have a lot of businesses that are closed, and we want to protect those businesses,” Barrone said in an interview before Friday’s special meeting.

The mayor said he decided to make the declaration because there has been increased activity around town at night despite the governor’s stay-at-home order.

“As the days are warming up, the college kids have come back to our community and older high school kids want to be out and about. We want to nip that in the bud,” he said.

The mayor said Taos has its share of elderly people who are more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus than younger folks, and the curfew is a measure to help protect them as well as businesses.

“If it saves just one life, it’s worth it to me. Anything we can do at this point to save lives, we have to do it,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to have regrets later that Taos didn’t do enough to protect its citizens.

The declaration calls for people to stay off “public streets, alleys, parks, rights of way, grounds or other public and semipublic places whether on foot, bicycle or in vehicles of any type” between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. First responders, health care professionals and delivery drivers are exempt from the curfew.

During the meeting, Barrone said police will initially issue warnings to violators. Otherwise, violators are subject to a $300 fine and 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor offense.

On March 13, the Town Council passed a resolution to cancel all public events on town property and close the library, Youth and Family Center and Guadalupe Gym.

As of Friday, 13 people from Taos County are among the 495 New Mexicans who have tested positive for the virus.