Article Originally Posted On Phoenix Business Journal On March 5, 2020
Gov. Doug Ducey announced in a series of tweets on Friday that all businesses, including restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks can immediately open at 100% capacity. Social distancing and mask requirements will be enforced, he said.
"Today’s announcement is a measured approach; we are not in the clear yet. We need to continue practicing personal responsibility. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay home when you’re sick and wash your hands frequently," Ducey said in a statement.
The governor's executive order precludes counties and mayors from implementing "extreme measures that shut down businesses."
In a tweet following Ducey's announcement, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego stated that while Arizona is heading in the right direction, Covid-19 and the pandemic isn't over.
"Mayors have made decisions based on science and data and we will continue to do so. Please continue to wear a mask and make decisions that protect you and your loved ones," she wrote.
For the last several months, bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks have been limited to either 25% or 50% occupancy, ABC15 reported.
“We’ve learned a lot over the past year,” Ducey said. “Our businesses have done an excellent job at responding to this pandemic in a safe and responsible way. We will always admire the sacrifice they and their employees have made and their vigilance to protect against the virus.
Ducey said his announcement follows seven weeks of declining cases in Arizona, and the distribution of more than 2 million vaccines.
“Like the rest of the country, Arizona has made its way out of the winter surge of cases," the governor said in a statement. "And we are leading the nation in the vaccination roll out. Our mitigation strategies have been targeted and data driven."
The Health System Alliance of Arizona issued the following statement in reaction to Ducey's order:
"Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have focused on providing quality patient care, slowing the spread of Covid-19, and partnering with state and local governments to launch vaccination efforts. Just like many in our community, we want life in Arizona to return to normal as soon as possible. In order to do so, we must work collectively based on the advice of public health experts. The Covid-19 mitigation strategies throughout the state are reasonable and evidence-based. Now is not the time to relax our mitigation efforts; we must stay the course to ensure that our vaccination efforts can outpace the spread of the virus."
Earlier this week, governors in Mississippi and Texas lifted restrictions and mask requirements in their states. Arizona does not have a state-wide mask requirement, though several cities and counties have enacted their own measures.
More than 515,000 people in the United States have died during the Covid-19 pandemic, including more than 16,000 Arizonans, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
To date, more than 2 million people in Arizona have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, of which 617,000 have received both doses.
ABC15 contributed to this report.