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Mixed reactions after restaurants allowed to resume 'normal operations' under executive order

Posted at 4:42 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 07:42:31-04

PHOENIX — Businesses are now being given the option to go back to normal. This comes a year after safety measures were first put in place.

“We went to Diego Pops and they had a sign that said: masks not required for guests,” says one customer in favor of Governor Doug Ducey’s order.

Governor Ducey issued an executive order Thursday stating businesses are no longer required to enforce masks and social distancing. Instead, it is recommended.

"It’s like life should be, where you can connect with people you're not friends with,” says another customer in favor of the change.

Many bars and restaurants are standing with Governor Ducey but not wanting to say that on camera.

We reached out to Riot Hospitality Group, which owns Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, El Hefe, and Riot House. They were among a host of bars that were in hot water last summer. Scottsdale police even charged Riot House with a misdemeanor at the time, for allegedly falling short on masks and physical distancing. They sent us a statement Thursday saying: “While we are happy to be able to bring more people back to work, health and safety are still at the forefront of our operations. We will still be operating under many of our same safety and sanitization guidelines as before.”

Similar to Riot Hospitality Group, many places are deciding to tread with caution.

READ MORE: Many Arizona businesses and restaurants will still require customers to wear masks

“It's almost awkward talking about not wearing masks,” says Nick Esposito of Belle’s Nashville Kitchen.

Belle’s Nashville Kitchen opened in December, specializing in comfort food. The general manager says they will be speaking to staff but keeping restrictions for now.

“Once we get a feel for our front of the house, back of the house, what they kind of want us to do as a restaurant and things of that nature, we'll kind of make decisions based on that,” says Esposito.

Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine says people should still be wearing masks. In regards to Ducey’s order, he said, “I think it's premature. I would have liked to see us wait until we have at least 60% of the population vaccinated."

The order also states local mandates will be phased out. That is something Dr. Shad believes could be potentially dangerous and harmful.

“It makes sense to still allow local mayors and city officials to make those decisions about whether or not to mandate masks in their cities and local municipalities because they know what's best in terms of what's happening on the ground,” says Dr. Shad.