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Governor blocks plans to reopen drive-in theater in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has blocked the reopening of a popular northern New Mexico drive-in movie theater despite city officials believing they had the OK.

The Governor’s Office blocked a plan on May 14 to reopen the Fort Union Drive-In Movie Theater in Las Vegas, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Las Vegas Optic reported.

City leaders believed they had the support of state leaders to open the theater, and planned to show a double feature of “Trolls World Tour” and “Doolittle” on May 15.

But the Governor’s Office called the San Miguel County Emergency Management Department the day before the scheduled reopening and told officials they didn’t have permission, Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo said.

“The Governor’s Office said they would treat the drive-in just like any other movie theater,” Trujillo told the Optic.

Under a public health order issued by the governor May 13, entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, are not allowed to operate. Those types of facilities are expected to be allowed to open under future stages of the state’s reopening plan, which could begin in June.

City Councilor Michael Montoya said leaders believed they had obtained permission from the state to open the drive-in, but plans were forced to change.

San Miguel County Emergency Management Director Leo Maestas said he was never aware that the state had granted permission to reopen.

Health officials say New Mexico now has nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases and more than 300 COVID-19 deaths.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some – especially older adults and people with existing health problems – it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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