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.
My top priority, above all else, is to protect public health. This is a painful decision that I do not take lightly. Our restaurants and small businesses need clear, uniform direction, and this order provides them exactly that.
— Regina Romero (@TucsonRomero) March 17, 2020
Declaring a State of Emergency in @CityofPhoenixAZ wasn’t made lightly. However, our medical professionals need all the help they can get & closing bars and moving restaurants to take-out/delivery/drive-thru helps #StopTheSpread. The health of our community comes first. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/3fudErodYQ
— Mayor Kate Gallego (@MayorGallego) March 17, 2020
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.