Citing recent developments in the coronavirus pandemic, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order March 25 amending the pandemic mitigation policies that had been mandated earlier. This came the same week Arizona topped 3 million doses of the vaccines administered.
Local mask mandates are no longer permitted under the Governor’s order. It will be left to privately-owned businesses to decide as to whether they will still require masks and social distancing. Ducey said mask usage is still encouraged, especially among those who have not been vaccinated.
Events of more than 50 people will no longer need the approval of local governments. Under Ducey’s order, they are expected to follow safe practices and the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.
Bars will now be able to resume regular operations, with the ability to require social distancing and masks.
The Governor’s order will not apply to Tribal governments, like the Colorado River Indian Tribes. They are considered sovereign and are not obligated to follow orders from the state.
The ending of mask mandates will not apply to the schools. Parker Schools Superintendent Brad Sale said they are continuing to mandate masks and social distancing as they are under mandates from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Ducey cited several recent events as the reasons for amending the earlier policies. These included 10 weeks of declining numbers of new cases, hospitalizations at their lowest level since the end of September and the beginning of October, the widespread use of the vaccines and the lowering of the age for vaccination to 16, and President Joe Bidens’ promise that every American will be able to vaccinated by May 1.
The Centers for Disease Control ranked Arizona third among the states in getting the vaccines to vulnerable communities.
“This finding by the CDC demonstrates the value of the hard work by the Arizona Department of Health Services, counties and healthcare workers to distribute Arizona’s limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine not only rapidly but equitably,” Ducey said in a statement.
As of March 26, according to the ADHS, there had been 838,558 cases in Arizona and 16,898 coronavirus-related deaths. There have been 4,792 new cases since March 26. The week before that, there were 5,300 new cases. At the end of January, the state was seeing 56,000 new cases per week.
The have been 3.1 million vaccine doses administered, with 1.97 million receiving at least one shot at 1.21 million receiving both shots.