Arizona 'Stay Home' Order Extended To May 15
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Arizonans are going to have to live under stay-at-home orders, at least for the next few weeks.
But when they do go out shopping -- something already permitted -- they will soon have more choices.'
And they might even be able to dine out by May 15.
Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday there just isn't the data from the state Department of Health Services showing that Arizona has beaten back the COVID-19 outbreak to allow his order to self-destruct as scheduled on Thursday night.
"There is not a trend,'' he said. "And what I'm looking for, what (health Director) Dr. Cara Christ are looking for are trends.''
But the governor said he does feel comfortable enough to allow some retail businesses shuttered under a separate order to open their doors, just a little bit at first.
Effective Monday, they will be able to sell items out the front door. So, for example, everything from furniture stores and jewelers to beauty salons can offer products to drive-up and delivery customers.
Then, by Friday, they actually can allow customers in the door -- providing the "establish and implement protocols and best practices.''
None of this, however, applies to stores located in shopping malls.
Restaurants are a different story.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott agreed to allow them to open up but with an occupancy of no more than 25 percent of capacity. Ducey, however, who keeps repeating his experience as owner of Cold Stone Creamery, said that's not acceptable.
"Anybody that's ever run a restaurant knows that 25 percent is just the surest way to continually lose a lot more money,'' he said. Instead, the governor said he is working with restaurant owners to come up with acceptable plans for how they can open and operate and still keep customers and staff safe.
The goal, he said, is allowing dine-in service by May 15.
One thing Ducey did make clear is that his word is law -- and that individual cities are not free to conclude that local conditions require longer closures.
"When I give guidance statewide, it is statewide, and it is enforceable by law,'' he said in response to a question by Capitol Media Services.
Ducey did say, though, he might consider enacting rules on a county-by-county basis.
There is precedent for that: His original closure orders applied only to counties where residents tested positive for the novel coronavirus.