Wednesday was a Red Letter Day for New Mexico dining, tourism, and hospitality.

Well, do this day with the yellow letters.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Department of Health lifted the 14-day quarantine for non-state states as many areas of the state, including the Santa Fe District, emerged from COVID-19 red status and transitioned to the less restrictive yellow, Visitors and New Mexicans returned home and were allowed to dine indoors in the state’s largest cities for the first time since mid-November.

Those two points would have been enough to celebrate in tourism-addicted Santa Fe, but there was a third piece of good news: hotel occupancy restrictions rose from 40 percent to 60 percent.

The 14-day quarantine had existed since July 1 and had devastated the tourism sector. Many visitors came to Santa Fe and ignored the edict, but many more canceled reservations or made no plans at all for Santa Fe.

“The quarantine was the big, big thing,” said Jeff Mahan, president of the Santa Fe Lodgers Association. “That was a battle. We are survivors. “

Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe, said the effects of the quarantine drop could be seen almost immediately.

La Fonda on the Plaza has 40 percent of its rooms reserved for Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Chinese New Year.

“We’re going to try to get 60 percent,” said Rik Blyth, general manager of La Fonda. “This [past] The weekend was the first time since Christmas that we reached the maximum of 40 percent. “

For many in the hotel industry, relief couldn’t come soon enough. El Rey Court, a popular spot for tourists outside the city center, has not hit 40 percent since the New Year’s weekend, said general manager Sarah Bolen.

“I think it will be a lot easier now to get to 60 percent,” she said. “This 14-day quarantine prevents many people from coming.”

Indoor dining in restaurants is also a landmark for New Mexico, but not all restaurants in Santa Fe may open at 25 percent capacity. Some say they are concerned about committing to a new plan with the possibility of the county going back to red status.

“I don’t think we’re going to open inside,” said Dago Melara, general manager at Bumble Bees Baja Grill. “It doesn’t make sense to open with just three or four tables.”

Another restaurant, Pho Ava, has done well with takeaway offerings, said co-owner Tommy Nguyen. But an opportunity to open for indoor dining was welcomed.

“That’s great,” he said of a return to indoor dining. “This is big news. It is difficult [without indoor dining]. ”

While many in the industry writhed below the limits of indoor eating, some found a way to get it to work. Ten Thousand Waves has its Izanami restaurant open throughout the pandemic, with outdoor tents in the summer and a more stable pavilion once winter sets in, said company president Duke Klauck.

“It’s toasted surprisingly,” he said. “We were very busy. People have noticed that that’s not bad. “

Izanami has eight outdoor tables and seats 30-35. Indoor dining should return by the weekend.

“We’ll do it,” said Klauck. “There are people who don’t have the mind [to eat in the pavilion]. That gives us another 20 to 25 places. Definitely worth it. “

Cowgirl BBQ, a popular downtown restaurant, closed in mid-November and is slated to reopen on March 1st. This goal remains.

“We’ll be closed until March 1,” said Cowgirl co-owner, president and chef Patrick Lambert. “The reason we’re not really opening up is because we’re restructuring a lot of things for COVID.”

Dolina Cafe & Bakery opens on Thursday with three or four tables.

“Personally, I’m just super excited to see people with cutlery sitting in a real place,” said owner Annamaria Brezna.