New Mexico Restaurant Affiliation (NMRA) Sues Governor Over Shutdown Orders

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Person sitting at a restaurant table

As COVID-19 continues to rage across the country, cities and entire states are wrestling with how to reopen their economies, if at all. Many states have taken the approach to gradually reopen certain industries and have allowed office buildings, day cares, parks, and shopping centers to reopen. Even indoor dining in many states has been allowed to resume in some capacity, but as COVID-19 case numbers begin increasing in certain areas around the country, some states are hinting they may back peddle on the whole reopening thing.

COVID-19 graphic; image courtesy of padrinan via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

One of those states is New Mexico. Recently, an Eddy County District Court Judge ruled that restaurants could reopen for indoor dining after the New Mexico Restaurant Association (NMRA) filed a lawsuit against the governor when she decided to keep indoor dining shut down. According to the lawsuit, Gov. Lujan Grisham (D) singled out the industry in a public health order that bans indoor dining. However, less than 24 hours after the court ruling allowing indoor dining services to resume, “the governor’s office requested a writ of supervisory control or a ‘Stay of Temporary Restraining Order’ to the New Mexico Supreme Court to block the lower court’s decision.”

As a result, NMRA has filed a second lawsuit aimed at forcing the state to prove its decision-making process to keep industries like the restaurant industry in limbo is actually driven by science and data. After all, for months now many governors have used the phrase, ‘science and data’ to justify their lockdowns and often draconian decrees, but rarely have they actually presented the science and data.

As part of this second lawsuit, NMRA “wants the public records made available showing their rationale for closing indoor dining, including how contract tracing data is being used.” Antonia Roybal-Mack, the attorney representing NMRA, said:

“The data available to us is very limited. It’s the rapid response data through the Environmental Health Department, and what we’re seeking to find is the complete data that led to the decision to close restaurants and not close other entities.”

Not all restaurant owners are chomping at the bit to reopen, though. For example, Dan Garcia, the owner of Garcia’s Kitchen, said he will likely stick to patio dining for now, even if indoor dining is allowed to resume. He said, “As far as data, I don’t know what they’re basing it off of. I mean, that remains to be seen, but you know there could be some truth, but maybe it’s not all truth—It’s hard to say.”

The second suit has already been forwarded to a judge, and if approved, the NMRA hopes it will at least grant restaurant owners the freedom to choose whether they want to reopen for indoor dining.

Sources:

2nd lawsuit filed by NMRA aims to reveal state’s decision-making for closing indoor dining

NM Supreme Court overrides judge, forces indoor dining to close again