PHOENIX (AP) – Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday lifted Arizona’s remaining limits to prevent coronavirus, banned government mask orders and allowed bars and nightclubs to open their doors without closing for months.
The Republican governor noted rising rates of vaccination and the introduction of vaccine appointments for all adults, as well as a reduction in COVD-19 infections and hospital admissions. His decision was welcomed by business interests and Republican officials, and condemned by public health experts and Democrats.
Ducie encouraged the continued use of masks, especially in groups of unsuspecting people. Their latest executive order allows businesses to apply mask mandates and distance requirements if they want to, but cities, towns and counties must lift them.
Restrictions on gatherings of 0 or more people were also lifted, but organizers need to “encourage” safety precautions such as social distance.
“I am confident that Arizona’s businesses and citizens will continue to practice the fundamentals and act responsibly as they gradually normalize,” Ducie said in a statement.
The response from Republican lawmakers and Mayor Ducie, who welcomed the move and Democrats calling it premature and politically motivated, came down sharply with patidar lines.
Rusty Bowers, chairman of the Republican House of Commons in Mesa, called it a “correct and responsible decision” in a statement issued by Ducy’s office fees.
San Mitchell Eugenti-Rita, who has pushed for an end to the declaration of emergency that gives Ducy the power to impose health sanctions, wrote on Twitter, “Better then not late.” “To all (of Arizona) who have suffered so much during this year’s long shutdown, we’re getting there slowly, but surely.”
Democrat Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Ducie’s decision “directly contradicts the best scientists in the field.”
“Leaving caution now is like speaking the ball on a 5-yard line,” Gallego wrote on Twitter. “We know that new variables are in circulation. The risk of a second surge is real. The governor clearly cares a lot less about the people of Arizona than his political future. ”
Chains of major Arizona hospitals, which had infiltrated extra beds and expanded their staff to cope with the emergence of Covid-19 patients last summer and winter, said Ducie has worked out the finished remedy. They urged people to be careful.
Hospital officials said in a statement by the Arizona Health Systems Alliance, which represents chains including Banner, Pride and HonorHealth.
Ducie resisted pressure last year to implement a statewide mask mandate, as the virus spread rapidly and hospitals became overcrowded. Eventually he gave local governments the need for facial ings, and most people.
Ducie says local mask commands were rarely enforced; The mayor says people helped people follow the recommendations of public health experts who said masks help limit the spread of the virus. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said she did not intend to lift her city’s mask mandate to avoid a potential conflict between the mayor’s authority and the governor.
Arizona has experienced two outbreaks that were the worst in the world at the time, but the virus matrix has seen a significant improvement recently. About a quarter of Arizona’s population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination and about 16% is fully inoculated. The two most common varieties of vaccine require two doses for complete protection.
Ducie opened the vaccination appointment to anyone aged 16 and over on Monday, but it will take time for people to get their shots. About 40,000 to 60,000 people received shots a day each week last week, a combination of the first and second doses.
The state reported 138 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the lowest daily increase in more than six months. In the gap between last summer’s surge and the worst fall and winter conditions in the state, an additional 81 cases were reported in September while daily case reports reached 17,000.
Another 32 deaths were reported on Thursday, bringing the state’s epidemic to a total of 16,874.
Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases and daily deaths continued to decline, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The daily new case rolling average has dropped more than half in the past two weeks to just over 500 on Tuesday, while the death toll has dropped from almost a third to 36.6, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.
Ducie also faced constant pressure over the state’s rejection Of the proposed vaccination site operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Tucson area. Southern Arizona officials are outraged by the decision. The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to urge them to reconsider, a request Thursday by five Democrats from a U.S. House of Representatives delegation in Arizona.
Pressed by Tucson reporters on Wednesday, Ducy said it would be more efficient for FEMA to give the state 6,000 doses per day.
Associated Press writer Paul Davenport contributed.