Republicans push back on coronavirus business restrictions

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Republican Party is urging New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to allow nonessential small businesses to reopen with some requirements for social distancing.

The first-term Democratic governor and state health officials have suspended a variety of nonessential business through at least April 30 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus and ensure health care facilities are not overwhelmed by a surge of patients.

The state Republican Party says the precautions are too drastic and put small, local businesses in jeopardy of financial ruin. GOP leaders scheduled a news conference Monday afternoon to explain their views further.

In his weekly podcast, Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce called the pandemic “a very difficult time for the free market, for capitalism, for hope and opportunity.”

Lujan Grisham says she is working on a plan to re-open the state economy while putting the highest priority on public health and safety.

A list of essential businesses that can remain open this month includes broad swaths of industries that attend to health care, emergency services, law enforcement, food supplies, energy, construction, internet service, data centers, some manufacturing, and care for the indigent, elderly and young children whose parents work.

Recent revisions to the restrictions placed new limits on the operation of liquor stores and storefront loan businesses.

The National Rifle Association and allied local businesses have sued the state for allegedly infringing on 2nd Amendment rights by closing down gun shops and shooting ranges as nonessential businesses. Firearms are still on sale at some feed and hardware stores.

New Mexico reported 1,245 known coronavirus cases with 26 deaths as of Sunday.

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