New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered all non-essential businesses to close in April but purchased jewelry over the phone to pick up later from a local business.
“I get it. Staying at home is hard,” she said at a press conference in early April. “I need you to do better. Our formal order’s extending our instructions to stay home, and the closure of business, and the identification of essential businesses, will be extended through April 30.”
“We are in really tough financial times as a state. It mirrors the incredible personal sacrifices that happen every single day because people have limited their ability to work… and many people, in fact, have lost their jobs,” she said.
A few days after the news conference, the governor called an employee of jewelry store Lilly Barrack so she could purchase items, and had the employee open up the store, get jewelry for her, and leave it outside the door of the store, according to the store’s owner. Someone that knew the governor then went and got the items for Grisham, according to the KRQE news report.
The store owner said that at the time the governor purchased the jewelry, nobody was allowed inside the store because of the coronavirus restrictions.
State Republican party chairman Steve Pearce said that the incident was “really disgraceful, especially since so many people have been hurting for so long,” according to the Associated Press.
Uh-oh. Days after NM Gov. Lujan Grisham issued a stay-at-home order, “a non-essential business opened up so she could buy jewelry and have it delivered to her.”
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) May 27, 2020
In an email, a governor spokesperson said that “Lujan Grisham did call an employee, saying they had a longstanding personal relationship. The employee came here [Lilly Barrack], got the jewelry and took it home, left it outside their home and then someone came and picked it up,” reported KRQE.
The spokesperson also said that the public health order wasn’t violated because businesses were allowed to operate without human contact. “None of the state’s public health orders have restricted the conduct of business operations in which an employee only interacts with clients or customers remotely.”
The stay-at-home order does require the closure of retail stores, and when asked about that, the spokesperson said that the store wasn’t reopened because “turning the key inside a door to ‘open’ a store wouldn’t violate the order,” adding that businesses were encouraged to find creative ways to operate and that the service wasn’t a home delivery.
“Of course the governor has been telling people to stay home to the greatest extent possible, it also true she’s been urging New Mexicans to find ways to support local businesses.”