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Phoenix, Tucson banning dine-in restaurant service, closing bars

PHOENIX – Arizona’s two largest cities are declaring states of emergency in response to the coronavirus threat and ordering a closure of bars and limiting restaurants to delivery, drive-thru and take-out service.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announced the steps, which will go into effect at 8 p.m. Tuesday night, on social media.

Romero said the restrictions apply to gyms, food courts and other venues where groups congregate and will last at least until the end of the month. Many such businesses had already closed or restricted service on their own.

In a video posted to Twitter, Gallego said the decision was made after consultation with business leaders, hospitals and health care associations.

She went on to describe a potentially harrowing scenario.

“What they’ve told me is that right now they are preparing to treat people in tents because we don’t have enough beds, that we expect doctors to have to make heartbreaking decisions about who gets a heart ventilator and who doesn’t,” she said.

Gallego added that she was told the state of emergency would help save lives.

Earlier Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services issued guidelines “strongly” recommending that restaurants in COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak areas discourage dine-in service.

As of Tuesday morning, Arizona had reported 20 positive tests for COVID-19, nine in metro Phoenix and four in the Tucson area.

Monday night, Flagstaff, northern Arizona’s largest city, said it was banning dine-in service and closing bars and other businesses where people gather.

Other cities across the Phoenix area have been reducing services and closing municipal buildings.

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