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Here’s what Gov. Doug Ducey’s new executive order means for Arizonans

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a news conference about updates to the coronavirus restrictions in Arizona, Tuesday, May 12, 2020, at the Arizona Commerce Authority conference center in Phoenix. (Thomas Hawthorne/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

PHOENIX – Arizona is moving from “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” to “Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger” as regulations designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus are lifted.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday the state’s stay-at-home executive order, which went into effect March 31 and was extended once, will expire as scheduled Friday at 11:59 p.m.

That order shut down many businesses and urged citizens to stay at home except for essential needs and for outdoor exercise and recreation.

In the past week, a variety of businesses – including hair salons, barbershops, retail stores and restaurants with dine-in service — have been cleared to resume operations if they follow physical distancing and enhanced sanitation guidelines.

Citing a decrease in positive test result percentage, adequate hospital capacity and expanded testing numbers, Ducey said Tuesday his initial “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order would not be extended again.

He also gave the green light to gyms, fitness centers and pools to reopen starting Wednesday, with movie theaters to come Saturday.

But the governor also issued a new executive order related to the coronavirus pandemic, calling it the “Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger” plan.

What exactly does the order mean for Arizonans? Here are some questions and answers about Arizona’s next phase, which begins when the calendar turns to Saturday.

How long will it last?

The governor will consider whether to repeal or revise the order every two weeks, but no target end date was set.

With businesses reopening, does this mean we can go back to pre-pandemic behavior?

No. The order says people should continue maximizing physical distance from others in public areas. In addition, businesses and workplaces are required to develop and implement policies based on state and federal agency guidelines to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

“I think everyone knows because Arizona has demonstrated such good common sense that this does not mean a return to normal,” Ducey said Tuesday. “This is the next step forward on the way out of this pandemic.”

How will those guidelines be enforced? Will I get arrested for getting too close?

The order leans on Arizonans to continue acting responsibly, although it does say law enforcement agencies can get involved. However, it says the primary focus should be on educating violators, not arresting or citing them: “An individual shall be notified of the provisions of this order and given an opportunity to comply prior to any enforcement action being taken.”

What previous orders are impacted?

In addition to restrictions in the original stay-at-home order being lifted, travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will no longer have to self-quarantine for 14 days when they come to Arizona.

Can I go to church or a protest?

The order states that nothing in it “prevents a person from engaging in constitutionally protected activities such as speech and religion.”

Does it address elections?

The previous answer also applies to “participating in the democratic process.”

Can local governments enact regulations that are more restrictive than state policy?

As with the stay-at-home order, counties, cities and towns are prohibited from making rules that aren’t aligned with the “directives or intent” of the new order. This doesn’t apply to Native American tribal territory.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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