PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks, and tubing operators to close for at least 30 days on Monday, following weeks of steady increases in positive COVID-19 test results in the state.
The order, which goes into effect Monday at 8 p.m. and lasts through at least July 27, comes a week after he issued a strong warning to bars and nightclubs, specifically in Scottsdale, that were not adhering to their social distancing requirements.
Ducey also limited mass gatherings to no more than 50 people ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend and delayed the start of school in the fall.
In terms of bars, the order describes them as businesses with Series 6 or 7 liquor licenses "whose primary business is the sale or dispensing of alcoholic beverages." Those businesses can remain open for pick up, delivery, or drive-thru, the order states.
Restaurants can remain open for both in-person dining, as well as takeout, delivery, and carry-out, Ducey said, but reminded them to follow the requirements he issued last week.
In order for bars, water parks, tubing companies, and indoor gyms to reopen, they will have to "attest to adhere to all public health regulations, and post it for the public to see." Enforcement will be led by local health officials and authorities, Ducey said.
Read the executive order
Restaurant dining rooms, some bars, nightclubs, attractions, and movie theaters were given the OK to reopen six weeks ago when Arizona's stay-at-home orders were lifted in mid-May, in coordination with the White House's phased-in gating criteria.
Reopening guidelines were issued to restaurants and businesses, including recommendations to reduce capacity and occupancy, increase cleaning, and to consider testing employees. However, enforcement of those recommendations was mostly left to the individual restaurants.
On June 17, Ducey issued another executive order turning those recommendations into requirements.
In recent weeks, Arizona has seen a significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, there have been 74,533 positive cases and 1,588 COVID-19 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Over 670,000 tests have been administered, per AZDHS' online data dashboard.
Some businesses and restaurants have also voluntarily closed or decided to return to carryout/takeout because of potential COVID-19 exposures and the uptick in cases. Employees at some restaurants have also reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.
Last week during his weekly press conference, Ducey said "bad actors would be held accountable," and called out eight popular bars and nightclubs in Scottsdale for not following social distancing.
Riot House, which was one of those nightclubs listed, was charged by Scottsdale officials with a misdemeanor charge that, if convicted, potentially carries a $2,500 fine. None of the other bars have been charged, though Scottsdale police said they were investigating other establishments.
Most of those Scottsdale businesses decided to voluntarily close.
Following Gov. Ducey's press conference on Monday, the CEO of Mountainside Fitness said he intended to sue the State of Arizona over the new executive order and vowed to keep his business open.
On Tuesday, the Governor's Office issued the following statement regarding gyms and fitness centers:
The governor’s executive order is clear. Gyms and other indoor fitness clubs or centers, regardless of size, shall pause operations until at least July 27. This is a public health issue, particularly among our younger demographic, and we are looking for cooperation and compliance from our business community in the name of public health. We know this is a sacrifice. The order provides clear enforcement authority to local government to cite these businesses, “up to and including summary suspension for any license that the business holds.” The order is also enforceable under A.R.S. 26-317, which carries the penalty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and a fine of up to $2,500. Our office has talked with law enforcement from around the state and local leaders. Again, we are looking for compliance, and we expect this order to be enforced.