PHOENIX — The cities of Flagstaff, Peoria, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson will again require people to wear masks when inside city-owned buildings and facilities, such as libraries and aquatic facilities, including those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and those who have not.
In response to an increase in the B.1.617.2 Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday updated its COVID-19 guidance around masks and recommended people wear masks when indoors in areas where there is "substantial or high" community spread.
According to the CDC's online COVID Data Tracker, 13 of the 15 counties in Arizona, including Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal, are all considered to be in "high" or "substantial" spread. Cochise and Yuma counties are considered to be in "moderate" spread.
There is no mask requirement for private businesses, such as bars, restaurants, and stores, however, those businesses can set their own rules for their customers and employees.
Here is when each city will require masks in city buildings:
- Tucson: Began Wednesday, July 28
- Peoria: Began Thursday, July 29
- Tempe: Begins Friday, July 30
- Flagstaff: Begins Friday, July 30
- Phoenix: Begins Monday, August 2
As vaccine rates increased and COVID-19 cases decreased in the spring, restrictions were eased.
Chandler, Gilbert, and Glendale did not anticipate issuing mask requirements, according to statements from their respective spokespersons.
With schools opening again for in-person learning, the CDC also recommended "universal indoor masking" for everyone, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors regardless of their vaccination status.
Currently, those 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine.
ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ, who will be leaving her position at the end of August to join Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, said prior to that announcement that the state agency would be recommending the CDC's guidance when it came to schools.
The state's superintendent Kathy Hoffman also encouraged people to follow the CDC's new guidance.
Despite that, however, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in June signed an executive order that prohibits schools from requiring students to wear masks or get the vaccine in order to return to in-person learning. Schools can continue to encourage people to get the vaccine.
"Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change," the governor said in a statement, in part, on Tuesday, following the CDC's and ADHS' recommendations.
Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change.— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 27, 2021
See my statement on the updated CDC guidance: https://t.co/YubNffZpq5
Editor's note: Story has been updated to include statements from Flagstaff, Chandler, Gilbert, and Glendale.