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Tempe mayor orders bars closed, ban on dine-in restaurant service

(Facebook Photo/City of Tempe Government)

PHOENIX – In response to the growing coronavirus outbreak, the city of Tempe is joining neighboring Phoenix in banning dine-in restaurant service and closing bars, gyms and other places where large crowds gather.

Mayor Mark Mitchell issued a proclamation Thursday ordering the changes a day after the City Council approved an ordinance declaring an extraordinary local emergency.

“This decision was made by me after careful consultation with experts and consideration of the various views of many local residents and business owners,” Mitchell, who lost his re-election bid earlier this month and will be replaced by Corey Woods in July, said in a press release.

“This is a very serious matter and, while it is a difficult decision, I must consider the health and safety of community members in Tempe and beyond. We must take active steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Starting at 8 p.m. Thursday, bars in the East Valley suburb known for its bustling Mill Avenue entertainment district must close and restaurants will be limited to delivery and curbside pickup.

That applies to entertainment venues such as movie theaters, comedy clubs, bowling alleys and arcades.

Gyms were ordered to close by 1 p.m. Thursday.

The town of Cave Creek enacted similar rules Wednesday, following closures and restrictions recently ordered in Phoenix, Tolleson, Tucson and Flagstaff.

Cave Creek’s order is effective from 4 p.m. Thursday through April 6.

Activity at Tempe’s Arizona State University campus had already been limited, with all classes being moved online, although dorms remained open.

Many businesses affected by the mayor’s order, including gyms and movie theaters, already closed their doors in response to the spread of the virus.

As of Thursday morning, 44 COVID-19 cases had been reported by the Arizona health department. Half of those were in metro Phoenix.

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