Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has lifted capacity restrictions at gyms, restaurants and other businesses Friday.
Ducey cites declining COVID-19 cases and the rollout of the vaccine, as he eases up on the pandemic restrictions that have upended life for nearly a year.
The lifting of capacity restrictions applies to gyms, restaurants, theaters, water parks, bowling alleys and bars providing dine-in services.
Arizona has not had a statewide mask mandate. But most local governments implemented them and they are unaffected by Ducey’s latest order.
Despite being legally allowed to resume operations at 100% capacity, two restaurants are being cautious about allowing more customers in due to health concerns and other state guidelines that pump the brakes on a full restaurant.
Governor Ducey's said even with no capacity limitations, restaurants and businesses still need to adhere to the six-foot social distancing guidelines.
"You still need that extra space to make sure you’re doing the social distancing that’s required," said Summer Anesin, Owner of Little O's Restaurants. "With the restrictions of the distancing, of 6 feet, there’s not going to be a lot of opportunities for 100% capacity."
The need for social distance, in most cases, naturally negates the ability to return to full capacity.
"Still like the fear factor that people have and like safety, we didn’t want to be like, ‘Bam! Free for all,'" said Anesin.
"There’s no way I could do 100%," said Barrio Cafe Owner Silvana Esparza. "Even if I could I wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be ethically right, the right thing to do to put people in danger?"
The Arizona Restaurant Association is ecstatic about the Governor's decision.
“Restaurants across Arizona have done an incredible job at implementing mitigation measures, protecting patrons and staff, and remaining flexible,” said Arizona Restaurant Association President & CEO Steve Chucri. “Limited occupancy and mitigation measures have been in place for many months now — our restaurants know what to do. Today’s order to lift occupancy restrictions will help Arizona’s restaurant sector thrive, while maintaining community safety through mitigation measures. Thank you to Governor Ducey for working to protect Arizonans and our economy.”