PHOENIX — Restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, water parks, and bars that serve food for dine-in can immediately open at 100% capacity, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Friday, lifting one of the state's mitigation strategies amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses will still have to enforce social distancing, mask requirements, and increased cleanings, and continue to follow the CDC-recommended guidelines, according to the executive order.
"Today’s announcement is a measured approach; we are not in the clear yet. We need to continue practicing personal responsibility. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay home when you’re sick and wash your hands frequently," Gov. Ducey said in a prepared statement.
Our latest guidance continues that approach. Today, I’m issuing an Executive Order that expires occupancy limits on businesses in Arizona, while preserving the distancing and masking mitigation measures that our businesses have successfully implemented in this pandemic. 4/5— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 5, 2021
The executive order also prevents mayors and local jurisdictions from issuing "extreme" orders that would shut down businesses, the Governor's Office said in a news release announcing the executive order.
For the last several months, bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks have been limited to either 25% or 50% occupancy due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor's Office cited the state's declining COVID-19 cases and increased COVID-19 vaccinations as reasons for loosening restrictions.
Earlier this week, Gov. Ducey signed an executive order that required all public schools in the state to offer in-person instruction by March 15, or after Spring Break. Schools are still allowed to have virtual learning.
Governors in Mississippi and Texas also lifted restrictions in their states, including ending mask requirements. Arizona, however, does not have a state-wide mask requirement, though several cities and counties have enacted their own measures.
To date, more than 515,000 people in the United States have died during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 16,000 Arizonans have died from COVID-19 complications, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
To date, more than 1.3 million people in Arizona have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, of which 700,000 have received both doses, according to ADHS's online data dashboard.
This story was first published by Josh Frigerio at KNXV.