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Ducey announces voluntary reopening plan for retail, food industry

(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey announced Wednesday he would partially reopen retail stores amid the coronavirus spread.

While extending the stay-at-home order for Arizona through May 15, Ducey said the state is implementing a plan for retail stores and restaurants to voluntarily reopen beginning next week.

“The next step in terms of breathing life back into small businesses is we are going to bring back a small step in terms of reviving main street with a partial reopening to retail,” Ducey said Wednesday. “You will see this beginning on Monday, May 4 and expanded on Friday, May 8. It will be voluntary.”

“… We are concerned most not only about our most vulnerable in public health but our small and medium business owners and this will be a way to allow them to participate in a safe and gradual way.”

Business involving the sale of goods which were not previously classified as essential may return to selling their goods in a limited capacity, according to Ducey’s amended executive order.

Additionally, Ducey announced a plan for the restaurant industry.

Through working with the Arizona Restaurant Association and the CDC, Ducey is hoping the state can expand dine-in options to customers.

“Our goal is to do this some time in May,” Ducey said. “The best case scenario according to the industry would be on May 12, but it will have to be in coordination with the industry and public health.

“… A lot of people are talking about a new normal that’s going to happen going forward. I’d like to think of it more as a temporary normal.”

Ducey said full scope of the plan will be coming next week.

Ducey added that while a plan for reopening dine-in options may take effect, dining experiences will be different than before, with workers following strict COVID-19 guidelines to encourage no-contact interactions with customers.

The governor’s announcements for voluntary reopening comes after state health officials reported Wednesday 11 new COVID-19 deaths, increasing the total to 304, and 254 additional positive tests, pushing the case total to 7,202.

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