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Valley leaders respond to Governor Ducey executive order lifting COVID-19 restrictions

Kate Gallego Doug Ducey AP
Posted at 10:56 AM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 20:59:09-04

PHOENIX — Valley leaders are responding to the executive order released Thursday, lifting many Arizona restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Governor Doug Ducey says local mask mandates no longer enforceable under new executive order

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in a tweet that Governor Ducey's decision to roll back several safety measures, including enforcing local mask ordinances, "directly contradicts the best scientists in the field." She said, "The horrible surge last June was only curbed by masking- when the Governor finally allowed cities to do it. To abandon precautions now is like spiking the ball on the 5-yard line."

Another Gallego tweet says, "We know new variants are circulating. The risk of another surge is real. The governor clearly cares a lot less about the people of Arizona than his political future."

“There is encouraging news. We have gotten a lot of vaccines in arms. Things are getting better,” Mayor Gallego told ABC15. “I am looking forward to the day we can safely take off masks. But that day isn’t in March 2021.”

Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said she was "relieved" to hear that an emergency measure requiring the use of face coverings in schools was still in effect.

In support of Ducey's decision, Sandra Watson, the president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said on Twitter, "Arizona's sensible approach has kept our economy moving forward while prioritizing public health. With wide eligibility for vaccines and more and more shots going into arms by the day, we applaud this commonsense next step. Arizona remains open for business! #azresilient."

Chad Heinrich, the Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said: “Many of Arizona’s small businesses have been through an unprecedented year of challenges due to the pandemic and the governmental response. As we now see objective measures showing clear virus mitigation coupled with the broad availability of the vaccine, it is a welcome sign that the business requirements are transitioning to recommendations. Small business owners will continue to act responsibly and keep each employee’s and customer’s safety a top priority as we continue to move Arizona’s small business economy forward. Let’s get Arizona back to work!”

Will Humble, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association tells ABC15 he thinks the move was done too soon by Governor Ducey.

“Had the governor waited 4-6 weeks it would have been a lot more wise,” Humble said. “I think the impact is going to be this pandemic is going to stretch out longer than it otherwise would have. It’s going to take longer to get to herd immunity."

Maricopa County Chairman Jack Sellers said in a statement, "Maricopa County respects the governor's authority to issue executive orders during this emergency. The county face covering regulation is no longer in effect as of the issuance of this morning's order.

I and other members of the Board receive regular updates from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. I encourage members of the public to stay informed about the level of spread of COVID-19 [] in their communities and vaccination rates [] by using the resources on our website.

Like the governor, I encourage people to take precautions such as wearing masks and staying away from large groups where you can't stay six feet apart. And please get vaccinated as soon as possible. While the vaccine supply is still limited, Public Health is holding vaccine events every week in different communities, local pharmacies have appointments and there are the state-run vaccine sites."

Mesa Mayor John Giles said, "While I remain an advocate for precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID19, including mask wearing, this can no longer be a legal requirement in the City of Mesa, based on Governor Ducey's announcement today. The Governor's Executive Order nullifies Mesa's mask mandate. Mask wearing will continue to be required in City of Mesa buildings.

All Mesa residents should remain actively vigilant because the pandemic is not over. Please continue to exercise the effective habits we've learned during the pandemic, including social distancing, good hygiene and mask wearing when distancing is not possible. Vaccinations are now available to Arizona residents age 16 and older and starting in early April, an additional high-volume vaccination site will open in southeast Mesa. I encourage everyone to get their shot as soon as they are able. These intentional actions are how we will all be able to move past the pandemic."