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Small business owners react to a potential three-week shelter-in-place in Arizona

Posted at 9:54 PM, Nov 29, 2020

Last week, Arizona's COVID-19 Modeling Team sent a letter to the Arizona Department of Health Services that recommended a three-week-shelter in place to help alleviate projected stress on hospitals with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise.

The letter said that if no immediate action is taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona, the consequences would be "akin to facing a major forest fire without evacuation orders.”

The three-week shelter in place is also recommended to start on December 1, Tuesday, something two local business owners hope doesn't happen.

"You will never recover financially," said George Zavulunov, Owner of Elegant Gents Barber Shop, who was forced to close for a month in early April this past year. "Even though I was shut down, the bills still came. I still had to pay for rent."

Zavulunov, who mans the barbershop alone, is heading into his prime time for customers.

"Winter is our busiest season. We barbers, we wait for winter. If we shut down, we’re going to lose our whole season," said Zavulunov.

Steph Doheny opened AIR Aerial Fitness just over a month ago and said that a three-week closure would kill any momentum she has built as a new business owner.

"To completely shut down operations, we definitely would take a hit financially. Obviously, we would take a hit with our members who may not come back after a shutdown," said Doheny.

Former Arizona Public Health Director Will Humble said the rise in COVID-19 cases in Arizona could have been prevented, and businesses are to blame.

"What happened was over time, businesses that were following the mitigation measures began to ignore them because they could see their competitors cheating, and they could see their competitors not getting into trouble," said Humble.

Recently, Arizona Mayors have called on Governor Doug Ducey to enact a statewide mask mandate, despite 90 percent of the state being covered by some sort of mask mandate. Humble said setting health guidelines isn't enough, and people will only follow them if there is enforcement.

"You need an executive order to establish the legal authority to revoke a food establishment license for not following the COVID-19 mitigation measures," said Humble.

When asked if Governor Ducey will actually enact a three-week shelter-in-place starting on Tuesday, Humble, without hesitation, said "No."