New Mexico's nurseries selling live product will "hereby be allowed to do curbside or delivery service," a governor's spokeswoman tells SFR. "They must take all necessary social distancing precautions and must continue to abide by the mass gathering rule," Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's press secretary Nora Meyers Sackett says via email.
SFR has been following the closure of nurseries since they were deemed inessential after the last amendment to the current public health order. Some nurseries continued providing curbside and delivery services saying they were unclear if these were also forbidden.
Payne's Nurseries, for example, was issued a cease and desist order last Monday by the State Police. State Police spokesman Ray Wilson confirmed police had issued the order to Payne's after receiving a complaint. Wilson said he was unable to provide SFR with information on how many complaints plant nurseries may have received in general.
"I can tell you however that in general NMSP does not proactively seek out businesses and check their compliance. When an officer responds it is the result of a public complaint made to the COVID 19 compliance complaint email or a phone call to NMSP directly," Wilson writes via email.
Payne's owner Lynn Payne, in speaking with SFR on Friday, said he'd been emailing and calling the governor's office daily and was en route to deliver a letter. More than 15,000 people signed a Change.org petition asking the governor to allow nurseries to operate.
Agua Fria Nursery owner Bob Pennington, who had closed up, said he's planning to opening up now to provide delivery and curbside as allowed.
"The delivery always made sense," Pennington said. "Absolutely. We have to. We have bills to pay. And the curbside, we got to do it, we just have to figure out how." As for the reversal by the governor, Pennington said, "We can hire back some employees, we can pay some bills, we won't go totally down the tube."
The governor's office subsequently told SFR the state Department of Agriculture is disseminating information to the nurseries.
According to Kristie Garcia the department's director of public affairs, NMDA has drafted information to provide to nurseries "ASAP," which is as follows:
"Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte has been working with the Governor's staff on a number of agricultural and horticultural issues over the past several weeks. As of April 20, 2020, 4:30 pm, the Governor's office has approved the opening of plant nurseries and floral shops for business under the following conditions:
- Business conducted as curbside and/or delivery only;
- All recommended safety precautions implemented to protect employees and the public.
If you have nursery questions, don't hesitate to contact [the NMDA Entomology and Nursery Industries Section] at 575-646-3207. Questions related to appropriate safety guidelines should be directed to New Mexico Department of Health's website (cv.nmhealth.org) or through the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline (1-855-600-3453).
In response to SFR's question, Garcia says via email that nurseries already licensed through NMDA "do not have to apply or register take part in the curbside or delivery service."