Proof of Vaccination May Benefit Attendance at State Fair ”Albuquerque Journal

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The halfway point of the New Mexico State Fair attracts thousands of visitors every day. This year, visitors will have to present proof of vaccination to access the exhibition center. (Jim Thompson / Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

State fair organizers and vendors say they have no problem with a new public health order requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination to participate in the annual event.

In fact, they said, it could be a raffle for people who would otherwise be hesitant to attend the event, which will be held this year from September 9-19.

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The mandate, released Tuesday, was criticized Wednesday by two state senators. Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte and Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, sent a letter to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Health and Human Services Secretary David Scrase, who is also Acting Secretary of the Department of Health, the urging to “remove the mandatory vaccination requirement for children” attending the fair, and call the vaccines “experimental”.

The senators pointed out that among the main events of the fair are competitions involving young people up to the age of 18, which are part of the 4-H and FFA projects raising animals and growing products.

“While we understand the pressures you and other state officials are under, we believe this decision was particularly negligent and reckless for the children and parents of our state,” they wrote. “No family should be faced with the dilemma of getting an experimental vaccine or losing their hard work altogether. “

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 358.6 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the United States.

The public health decree allows exemptions. People can enter the state fairgrounds without proof of vaccination if they have documentation of a qualifying medical condition or religious ban, or proof of a negative COVID test within 48 hours previous ones. Additionally, all show visitors are required to wear a mask when attending indoor events or exhibitions.

Expo New Mexico general manager Dan Mourning said State Fair staff are ready to comply with all public health order requirements.

“It really doesn’t matter. It’s more like showing your driver’s license or a ticket to participate in an event, so I don’t think that affects us negatively, ”he said. “We’re pretty good at getting people in and out quickly and through admission doors. “

In 2019, the year before the pandemic forced the State Fair to take a break, nearly half a million people visited.

In addition, Mourning said, the State Fair has a number of protocols and security devices in place. There will be an increase in the cleaning and disinfection of interior spaces, the incorporation of ionization technology to clean and exchange the air in barn areas, and the incorporation of non-contact technology and the applications used. to buy tickets and food from vendors.

State Fair vendors polled by the Journal say they are also on board and have no issues with the warrant.

Gil Stewart, owner of the Native Café in Indian Village, has been serving food at the fair for 15 years. He already demands that all his employees show him proof of vaccination, “So I was already early because I wanted to make sure there was a safe environment for people.

Stewart said he knew many people who had been vaccinated “but were hesitant to come to the fair and did not know whether those around them would be vaccinated or not.” The mandate answers that question and alleviates people’s apprehension, he said.

Howard Rogers of JR’s Barbeque, who has been at the State Fair for 35 years, said he believed people who had not been vaccinated would be looking to get vaccinated just so they could visit the State Fair.

Because the State Fair was on hiatus last year due to the pandemic, he compared the current situation to that of “grandparents who haven’t seen their grandchildren for months and months and now they are delighted to visit them “.

Amy Romero, owner of Batter Up Mini Donuts, has been serving her treats at the State Fair for 20 years. “I totally agree with the masks and show proof of vaccination,” she said. “I think people will be more comfortable knowing that everyone around them is vaccinated, and maybe it will give them a reason for wanting to attend the fair. People are ready to go out and have fun, ”she said.

The other big event for visitors to come is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which will be held October 2-10. In 2019, the fiesta recorded 866,414 visits and attracted 588 registered balloons.

It is not clear at this point whether visitors will need to show proof of vaccination to be admitted, fiesta spokesman Tom Garrity said.

“The public health order is being reviewed in detail by the Board of Directors and staff of Balloon Fiesta as we continue preparations. … We will make the necessary adjustments and we will announce them, if there are any, within the next two weeks.

Since most parties are held outdoors, masks are not required under the current mandate. However, COVID remains “at the forefront of our minds,” Garrity said.

Visitors can expect to see more handwashing stations, some hospitality catering services previously served indoors or in tents will now be set up outdoors, and specially shaped balloons will be spaced around of the throwing field “to disperse the crowds and minimize clustering,” Garrity mentioned.

The fiesta also hired a licensed medical professional to act as a public health official and advise the fiesta board of directors on COVID-safe practices.


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