PHOENIX — In an effort to stop a massive surge in new coronavirus cases, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered bars, nightclubs, gyms and fitness centers, water parks, tubing centers and indoor movie theaters around the state to be closed for at least 30 days starting Monday night, July 29.
Ducey also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until at least Aug. 17.
The Parker Unified School District had planned to start the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 3.
The 2020 Parker Tube Float, which had been scheduled for Aug. 1, has been cancelled for this year. It had already been moved from its traditional date in early to mid-June due to concerns over the coronavirus.
The executive order, No. 2020-43, could be extended if the number of new virus cases does not slow down or continues to rise.
The number of coronavirus cases in Arizona has increased dramatically since Ducey's previous 'stay-at-home' order expired May 15. From 18,000 cases on May 26, the total number of cases had increased to 74,000 by June 29. There were just over 800 deaths on May 26. That number had increased to almost 1,600 by June 29.
Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the last 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.
Hospitals around the state have begun activating surge plans to increase their capacity to treat coronavirus patients as confirmed cases rise and more people seek treatment.
Joe Gerald, the program director for public health policy and management at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health, told KPNX-TV in Phoenix the state could run out of ICU beds by early July.
Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after Ducey's stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire May 15. Bars that don't serve food were not allowed to re-open, but scenes of packed clubs that used that loophole to return to business as usual were common.
Pools at hotels and motels and municipal pools are also being ordered to close, as is a popular tubing location on the Salt River east of metro Phoenix.
If the closure order isn't extended and nightclubs, pools and other gathering spots are allowed to reopen July 27, local health officials and law enforcement will be able to enforce strict social distancing and patron count rules.
Private pools at apartment complexes can remain open, but they must limit gatherings to no more than 10 people and post signs of the limitations.
The governor is also re-establishing a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, and the state liquor department is ending the issuance of special-use alcohol permits. Cities or counties could issue their own permits only if they ensure special rules are followed.
Most movie theaters remain closed, including the BlueWater Cinemas in Parker. The order closes those that re-opened and prevents others from reopening.
Ducey said all Arizonans need to do their part to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
"We need to slow the spread.. mask up," he told FOX 10 News in Phoenix. "Please wear a mask... we're not going back to normal any time soon."
- Pioneer reporter John Gutekunst contributed to this story.