Sunport, locals react to travel restrictions being lifted

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As more counties move into less-restrictive levels of risk, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is easing travel restrictions. After nearly a year of mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone traveling into New Mexico from states considered ‘high-risk,’ Gov. Lujan Grisham is lifting that requirement.

Starting Thursday, travelers coming into New Mexico will not be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. “I’m super excited because now if I want someone to come, I won’t have to make them stay two weeks if they can only stay a few days, three days, four days,” Savannah, an Albuquerque resident, said.

People who can’t work isolated at home said the quarantine did impact travel plans. “I’m a self-employed person so I’m lucky to be working because a lot of people aren’t in the service industry,” Maria Laws, an Albuquerque resident, said. “Yeah, I avoided traveling because I don’t want to be in quarantine and be off for like an entire month of living.”

“I couldn’t take off work longer to end up staying like a week there, and then an extra two weeks. Plus you have to quarantine there and quarantine when you get back here,” Savannah said. She works with people with developmental disabilities and said she can’t work while quarantining.

Previously, the state required self-quarantine for visitors or New Mexicans entering the state from “high-risk” states or states with a 5% positivity rate or greater over a 7-day rolling average, or a positive test rate greater than 80 per 1 million residents. As of February 9, the only state deemed “low-risk” and not requiring a quarantine was Hawaii. After the announcement, people can travel into New Mexico from “high-risk” states and not be required to quarantine. It’s welcome news to the Sunport.

“For us as the airport, it’s really exciting. it’s certainly encouraging for us. Knowing that that is lifted means that people will be more likely to travel here,” Stephanie Kitts, a spokesperson for the Sunport, said. Kitts said the Sunport is prepared for more travelers.

“We’re definitely prepared to see an influx of passengers but for sure it means a change in our messaging, of course you know, communicating the fact that we don’t have this quarantine in place anymore. Really ramping up the discussions on the testing that we have on-site and those sort of things,” Kitts said. Even with the lifted restrictions, not everyone wants to travel out-of-state right away.

“I’ll feel much better when I have both doses and maybe then I’ll take a weekend in colorado. but until then, I can wait. And I feel good about that,” Laws said. “There’s so much we don’t know…Why not just stay safe.” Still, some travelers said the lifted restrictions are a sign of hope.

“It does give me hope however I know things can always change and it could come back to the two weeks,” Savannah said. It’s unclear right now if Southwest Labs will be increasing its testing capacity at the Sunport. The Sunport said it was able to retain staff during the pandemic and so it is already prepared for an influx of travelers.

While the travel-quarantine is lifted, the state is still asking people to limit travel to only what is necessary for work and family. For people coming into New Mexico, it’s strongly advising people to still complete quarantine and seek a COVID-19 test upon arrival.

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