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Arizona restaurant leader sees Ducey’s latest requirements as beneficial

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX – The head of the Arizona Restaurant Association said Gov. Doug Ducey’s latest guidelines for restaurants providing dine-in service are helpful for the industry.

“I think that if we can work together with the governor’s office and other leaders to bring down these cases as a restaurant industry, we’re going to do it,” Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Friday.

Ducey’s original executive order around restaurants reopening in May laid out guidance to operate at 50% capacity, but it wasn’t a requirement or enforceable.

The updated order gives the Arizona Department of Health Services, county heath departments and law enforcement power to take action.

“While many restaurants were probably already at the 50% or lower, there were several restaurants that still could seat 65% or greater of their dining room and have that social distance,” Chucri said.

The restaurant capacity is not based on the number of chair and tables that a business has, but it hinges on what number is set as the occupancy for the building by the fire code.

The Arizona Restaurant Association issued additional guidance in mid-June for restaurants the same time the governor did.

They continue to educate businesses in the industry to keep guests safe.

“It’s still an education game. We’ve got over 9,000 restaurants in the state of Arizona so we’ll continue to do that,” Chucri said.

Chucri said he’s seen a breakdown in social distancing when people are waiting for a table, often congregating near the host stand, which is something Thursday’s order called to be eliminated. They’re working with restaurants to use texting platforms to let patrons know when tables are ready or having guests wait in their cars.

While the industry is ready to do its part, Churci also called on other businesses outside of restaurants and hospitality to take action as well.

“This is far more than the restaurant industry needing to act,” Chucri said. “Other businesses need to act. Young adults and adults together need to make sure they’re not putting themselves in big party atmospheres and spreading it like that.”

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