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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that she will not use coronavirus concerns to prevent people from protesting, but spoke out against political candidates campaigning door-to-door because it would be a "terrible idea" during the pandemic.
"We are not going to use COVID or anything else to prevent a peaceful protest, but we are not going to let them be excuses for political organizing for the sake of a political party or individual getting ready for the election," Grisham said in remarks delivered Thursday. That day, Grisham extended her state's public health order — which prohibits "mass gatherings" — through Aug. 28.
During the same address, Grisham said she was "reminding candidates that they can't be going door-to-door," because "that is just a terrible idea in a COVID world," local KRQE reported.
The governor's office pulled back on this the following day, telling the local station Friday that candidates are permitted to go door-to-door, provided they wear masks and maintain social distancing practices.
The governor's support for protests appears to be a reversal, after she previously discouraged such activities.
"Young, old, however you would define that, people should not be doing these protests with COVID-19," Grisham said in July according to KOB4, adding, "COVID is a significant risk and these pose a significant challenge."
The governor encouraged people to use "virtual engagement" instead, where possible, and offered technical assistance so that groups could use online methods to reach audiences.
On Sunday, KRQE reported, hundreds took to the streets of Albuquerque, protesting the presence of federal officers who are part of the expansion of Operation Legend, which the federal government has been using to assist state and local law enforcement in crime-fighting. The program called for 35 federal agents to be present in the city.
President Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced last week the new law enforcement deployment, assuring it would not involve agents in tactical gear like those used to confront protesters in Portland, Ore., where demonstrations have spiraled into violence.
Fox News' Stephanie Pagones and The Associated Press contributed to this report.