Ducey lifts COVID-19 restrictions, including local mask warrants
PHOENIX – Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced significant rollbacks in COVID-19 restrictions for the state after officials announced three million residents had been vaccinated on March 25.
The announcement shifts current directions for business from requirements to recommendations, and businesses will have the “ability to continue to demand masks and social distancing.”
His order still allows companies to apply mask warrants if they choose, but cities, towns and counties must lift theirs.
Events of more than 50 people will also no longer need the approval of local governments, in the hope that they will continue to follow CDC recommendations for COVID-19 mitigation.
Bars will also be able to “resume their normal activities” under the governor’s new order.
Arizona Governor Ducey has eased restrictions on state businesses.
“Today we are in a different place, and we are also much smarter”, Ducey written on twitter. “I have no doubts that Arizona businesses and citizens will continue to act responsibly as we gradually return to normal. ”
The governor cited weeks of declining cases, hospitalization rates and how vaccine eligibility has spread to residents aged 16 and older.
March 25, Arizona reported 138 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, the smallest daily increase reported in over six months.
According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, the additional cases and 32 additional deaths reported Thursday brought the Arizona pandemic total to 837,907 cases and 16,874 deaths.
The state reported 81 more cases on September 8 in the trough between last summer’s surge and the worst of fall and winter, when daily case reports hit 17,000.
Phoenix mayor criticizes governor over changes
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said on twitter that Ducey’s announcement “directly contradicts the best scientists in the field”.
“The horrific outbreak of last June was only curbed by masking – when the governor finally allowed cities to do it,” Gallego wrote. “Letting go of precautions now is like throwing the ball over the 5-yard line. ”
Gallego cited new variants of the coronavirus circulating in Arizona and how the state may see another outbreak in the future.
“The governor obviously cares far less about the people of Arizona than about his political future,” Gallego wrote.
Comments from Arizona politicians, others on COVID-19 command
” Better late than never. To all the Arizona people who have suffered so much in this year of downtime, we’re getting there slowly, but surely. – State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale.
“@Dougducey is now preventing local leaders from protecting their communities. Virtually everyone agrees that vaccines and masks are essential to truly end this pandemic. ” – Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
“… The governor made the just and responsible decision to continue to move Arizona forward and to ensure that our economy and our people prosper again. – Arizona House President Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa.
“The relaxation of these guidelines could undermine the excellent results we have achieved in recent weeks. I want normality, but I also want herd immunity to # COVID19. – State Representative Cesar Chavez, D-Phoenix.
“While we are now seeing objective metrics showing clear attenuation of the virus associated with the wide availability of the vaccine, this is a welcome sign that business requirements are moving towards recommendations. – Chad Heinrich, State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
“A downward trend does not mean elimination of the virus. Now is not the time to get complacent and declare victory when the virus is still prevalent in our community. – Arizona Health System Alliance.
“We appreciate what the governor did today by making the application of masks optional for businesses… Local mandates were a policy of division with no data to back them up. »- Rep. State Joseph Chaplik, R-Scottsdale.
“This is extremely PREMATURE and will cause BAD RESULTS! Are not enough Arizonans who are INFECTED? Are there not enough Arizonans who are sick? Not enough Arizonans DEAD? – Rep. State Andrea Dalessandro, D-Green Valley.
“Governor Ducey’s advice protects public health and leaves Arizona businesses and citizens to continue to take the precautions that will keep everyone safe. Thank you, Governor Ducey, for following the science and reopening Arizona. – Karen Fann, Arizona Senate Speaker, R-Prescott.
“Just days after blocking a FEMA vaccination POD that could immunize 210,000 residents of Pima County, Governor @dougducey decides to overturn local mask laws that protect public health. – Pima County Supervisor Rex Scott.
“Our restaurants know what to do, and Governor Ducey’s updated advice will allow them to operate in the best way they see fit. – Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association.
“The vaccine is widely distributed, many Arizonans are vaccinated and the number of COVIDs is dropping. We are ready to carefully lift the restrictions and trust the Arizonans to make responsible decisions. – Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke.
Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic:
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Read the full press release: https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2021/03/arizona-hits-3-million-vaccine-doses-administered-governor-ducey-announces-new
The Associated Press contributed to this report.