PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday lifted a majority, if not all, of the state's remaining COVID-19 safety measures that were implemented throughout the pandemic, the most significant being that businesses are no longer required, though are recommended, to enforce mask-wearing, social distancing, or any of the other safety measures.
Instead, those decisions have been left up to the business and restaurant owners.
For those eager to walk into a restaurant mask-free or shop the aisles without a face covering, there may be an unexpected surprise. Most, but not all, businesses, bars, and restaurants are making no immediate changes to their COVID-19 operations.
Remember, despite today’s actions, businesses can enforce their own rules as private businesses. Some already are. pic.twitter.com/1LIp71iTJc— Josh Frigerio, ABC15 (@JoshFrigerio) March 26, 2021
Numerous businesses took to their social media pages Thursday to update their followers, fans, and customers.
"While we respect everyone's personal choices, we feel that it is in the best interest of our team and their safety to continue mask usage while indoors until further notice so that we can see how this decision impacts the overall health and safety of Arizonans," read a message on the social media accounts of Toasted Mallow, Worth Takeaway, and Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
"We're very happy to see indications that things are starting to get close to normal. Despite changes in mask mandate policies, our 100% mask-on policy will remain in place at the present, in order to give our employees time to receive vaccines," said Zia Records, part of a longer statement on its social media channels.
In statements to ABC15, Bashas', which also owns AJ's Fine Foods and Food City, and Fry's Food Stores said that they would still require both customers and employees to wear masks inside their grocery stores. Same with Costco and Sam's Club, according to their websites.
Earlier this week, state leadership expanded eligibility to get the COVID-19 to everyone 16 and older. Thousands of appointments were booked in less than 30 minutes. More than 80,000 appointments are set to be released Friday at 11 a.m.
At 11 a.m. Friday, nearly 83,000 appointments will be available for next week at state vaccination sites. Online scheduling is available at https://t.co/JID1GqFfYI, and telephone assistance is available at 844.542.8201. pic.twitter.com/Cy5Fed9CGr— AZ Dept of Health (@AZDHS) March 26, 2021
Jolie's Place, a local bar in Chandler, wrote on its Facebook page that it would still recommend people wear masks and social distance, however, "we will not be enforcing or policing it."
"Our choice to allow people to use their own judgment is not drive by politics, medicine, or media," the Facebook post read. "It is driven by the right to make personal choices, in a continually confusing time."
"We want to drop the masks as much as everyone else, but we feel like it's in our best interests for our staff and other customers to keep it in place for now," wrote Arcadia Premium in a Facebook post.
Belly Kitchen and Bar said in a post," Our mask & distancing protocols will remain in tact fully. Please respect our decision to keep our staff & community safe by wearing a mask upon entry."
Several cities, including Mesa, Peoria, and Scottsdale, as well as Maricopa County, rescinded their individual mask requirements as ordered in Gov. Ducey's latest executive action. However, most said masks would still be required inside city-owned buildings and facilities.
Gov. Ducey's executive action also allows bars, especially those that were unable to serve food and open as "restaurants" to reopen, and allows dancing and karaoke to resume. It also allows restaurants to seat groups larger than 10 people.
For those traveling soon, masks are still required at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, including inside the terminals, on the PHX Sky Train, on airport buses, on the aircraft, and at the rental car center, as the federal mask mandate remains in place.
Masks are still required on public transportation, which would include Valley Metro's light rail and buses.