Mayor Tim Keller wants nonessential businesses to know: He means business.
Keller, along with Albuquerque Fire Rescue and the Albuquerque Police Department, are cracking down on nonessential businesses found in violation of the governor’s public health order.
“The new reality and these state orders are certainly challenging, and I know they are very tough on businesses and, in many ways, can seem uneven or unfair, but they’re extremely important,” Keller said during a Wednesday news conference. “I want to remind everyone that the goal is we’re trying to save folks’ lives and I know, as a city, we’re trying to keep as many essential business open. … But the nonessential ones you just have to close, it just is what it is right now.”
Keller said APD, AFR and the Environmental Health Department will be conducting enforcement, issuing warnings and eventual citations, for nonessential businesses that stay open. He said some businesses that “have been resistant” have been warned and at least one, Rags to Riches Smoke Shop, has been cited.
APD Lt. Ray Del Greco said officers are “ramping up” enforcement action and have conducted checks on around 400 businesses, the “vast majority” of which are complying with the order. To enforce the order, APD is using a team of officers dedicated to patrolling for noncompliant businesses, checking referrals by State Police and citizen complaints.
Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman, said the department issued 10 formal warnings on Tuesday to nonessential businesses. Those warnings must be signed by the business owner or manager and, if officers are called to the same business a second time, they will be cited.
“Businesses have three hours from the formal warning to shut down, or they will be cited,” he said. “APD will also issue warnings to essential businesses that do not follow public health guidelines.”
Gallegos said a second violation may be cited as a petty misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $100 and/or up to six months in jail. A third violation, and each following violation, may be referred to the state – and each violation is punishable by a civil administrative penalty of up to $5,000.