SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said images and videos appearing to show busy bars and nightclubs and crowded streets within Old Town Scottsdale's Entertainment District over the holiday weekend were "...disturbing, and quite frankly show a real lack of common sense and civic responsibility."
"Businesses and their patrons need to realize that individually we each play an absolute part in our own personal hygiene, distancing and health courtesies, and each of us plays a significant part in our city's health, both physically and economically," Lane said in a statement posted to his Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon, days after videos and images surfaced on social media and in media reports.
Casa Amigos, Bottled Blonde and Maya Dayclub, popular hot spots in Scottsdale, were all seen with lines of people waiting to get in. TMZ Sports reported that Floyd Mayweather even made a visit to the Valley to attend a party at Maya's pool.
Since restaurants in Arizona were allowed to reopen their dining rooms a few weeks ago, people have taken to social media to complain that they're too busy and that social distancing guidelines are not being followed.
So, how busy is too busy when it comes to social distancing? That is a question that doesn't necessarily have an answer.
Shortly after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order was lifted, he issued a number of recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arizona Department of Health Services. Other organizations, including the Arizona Restaurant Association and Local First Arizona, have also put out their own guidelines, which are recommendations and not mandates.
Among them: limiting the amount of people allowed inside restaurants and other venues, limiting groups to 10 people or less, encouraging social distancing, considering requiring employees to wear masks and to conduct pre-shift temperature checks, and frequently cleaning high-touch areas, such as doors, bathrooms, handles, tables, and chairs.
Arizona Gov. Ducey has stated multiple times that the guidelines are being enforced, but has not provided specifics of who is enforcing those recommendations and how. It appears that it is up to local police agencies to enforce them, and for local businesses to make sure that they're compliant. Ducey has also previously threatened that non-compliant businesses could be risking their liquor licenses.
Weeks ago, CASA Tempe, a restaurant and bar in downtown Tempe, was criticized for being too crowded. Tempe police responded twice and no citations were issued.
As a result, Tempe's outgoing mayor Mark Mitchell issued a city proclamation mandating that businesses have a documented plan on how they plan to keep employees and customers safe, while following CDC-recommended guidelines.
In his statement, Scottsdale's Mayor Lane said he was "personally reaching out to the businesses that were shown over this past weekend to be open with large crowds, so that I can discuss with them the importance of our continued progress." However, he did not mention any enhancement changes, discipline, or enforcement.
"We did not expect the influx of patrons this past weekend. Due to it being a holiday weekend and most other states still shut down around us, we got inundated with patrons from all over trying to get in," said Jason Adler, director of operations for Spellbound Hospitality, the company behind Maya, Dakota, and The District, in an email on Wednesday.
"We did the best we could to follow social distancing guidelines given. We greatly appreciate Mayor Lane and city staff's concerns and do not disagree with them. We look forward to any additional guidelines to further provide a safer environment."
He said their clubs do have markers on the ground to show people what a six-foot distance is, have limited the amount of people allowed inside, have placed plastic barriers at the bar and between tables, and that their employees are required to wear masks.
Riot Hospitality Group, which operates a mix of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, including Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row, El Hefe, and Riot House, said in a statement late Wednesday that its safety protocols "go above and beyond what the state and country regulating agencies are recommending to our industry."
"Leading up to and during the re-opening, our safety protocols for staff training and service, and our overall operations, go above and beyond what the state and county regulating agencies are recommending to our industry," their statement said.
Read Mayor Lane’s full statement below:
"The images from Old Town Scottsdale this weekend are disturbing, and frankly show a real lack of common sense and civic responsibility. Businesses and their patrons need to realize that individually we each play an absolute part in our own personal hygiene, distancing and health courtesies, and each of us also plays a significant part in our city’s health, both physically and economically.
This disease is spread between people – and personal actions determine whether public health guidance is effective in blunting the spread of COVID-19. We succeeded together in preventing our medical services from being overwhelmed. It was a costly effort; many businesses and individuals paid a huge cost for the success we have had to date.
It is imperative that all businesses comply with the governor’s executive orders – to ignore them is to risk faster spread of this disease and further damage to our physical and economic wellbeing.
In responding to reports about non-compliance to the governor’s orders and public health guidelines, we educate businesses and solicit their cooperation first. I am personally reaching out to the businesses that were shown over this past weekend to be open with large crowds, so that I can discuss with them the importance of our continued progress.
If we choose to respect one another as part of a community effort, we will bring the city and the country back. There are other steps that can be employed under the state and city emergency declarations if needed – we take these matters very seriously.
Now more than ever we need people and businesses to do the right things. Stay home if you are sick or have any symptoms of illness; wash or sanitize your hands frequently; stay six feet away from others wherever possible and cover your nose and mouth when you can’t keep your distance."