With more than 3 million Arizonans now vaccinated, Gov. Doug Ducey has announced updates to the state COVID-19 measures for local ordinances, businesses, and events.
The new changes include:
- Mask mandates by local governments will be phased out. The governor still encourages those who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask.
- Events with more than 50 people will no longer need approval from local governments but are still required to follow CDC recommendations.
- Business guidance will transition from requirements to recommendations.
- Bars can resume regular operations without needing a food component. The governor recommends requiring masks and social distancing.
The state has distributed 3,041,773 COVID-19 vaccines with 1,185,986 Arizonans being fully vaccinated and hospitalizations due to the virus have declined for 10 weeks, according to the governor's office.
"Today we are in a different spot and we are also a lot smarter," Ducey said. " I'm confident Arizona's businesses and citizens will continue to practice the fundamentals and act responsibly as we gradually get back to normal."
Earlier in the week, the governor denied FEMA from opening federal vaccination sites in Pima County that could've distributed up to 200,000 doses to Southern Arizonans.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors responded by unanimously approving a resolution to request the governor to reconsider his shot-block decision during an emergency meeting on Wednesday.
Ducey said he would reconsider his earlier decision only because "Board of Supervisors feel so strongly about it, but the objective is going to remain putting shots in arms," he said while getting a vaccine shot at the University of Arizona on Wednesday.
Read more about the governor's reconsidered decision here.
Mayor Regina Romero said she believes Ducey's actions are pre-mature and put Arizonans in jeopardy. Romero still intends to require masks in the city of Tucson in response to the governor's announced intention to phase out mask mandates of local municipalities, she said.
"Our city attorney has advised me that we have clear local authority to continue implementing our city mask mandate," Romero said in a recent statement regarding Ducey's announcement. "Here in Tucson, we will continue to follow the science and advice of our public health experts."
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry pointed out the irony of the governor's announcement considering it's only been days since Ducey chose to block the federal government from setting up vaccination sites in the county. He said Pima County still intends on requiring masks and other precautions at county facilities and for county employees.
"Restrictions will ease at our county parks, facilities, buildings and properties when our health leaders and science says it's safe to do so," Huckelberry said in a release. "We're not going to let politics drive our decision-making when it comes to protecting public health."