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Gov. Doug Ducey lifts Arizona COVID mandates, including local mask rules

Gov. Doug Ducey poses after receiving his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Tucson on March 24, 2021. (Twitter Photo/@uarizona)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday rolled back the state’s remaining COVID-19 mitigation requirements, including local face mask mandates.

Under a new executive order, all of the state’s business requirements have been changed to recommendations, and bars can now go back to their pre-pandemic operations.

In addition, events of more than 50 people, including youth sports, no longer need approval from local governments.

Businesses still have the option to require social distancing and masks and refuse service to patrons who don’t comply.

“The measures put in place last summer allowed Arizona to fight back COVID-19,” Ducey said in a press release. “I want to thank the local leaders who supported these efforts with their own measures, and the businesses who implemented them.

“Today, we are in a different spot, and we are also a lot smarter. I’m confident Arizona’s businesses and citizens will continue to practice the fundamentals and act responsibly as we gradually get back to normal.”

The order says local governments can’t make any regulations pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and specifically mentions face masks mandates.

Mask requirement for K-12 schools remain in effect, according to Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

Thursday’s order also rescinds a handful of previous executive orders issued by Ducey during the pandemic.

Ducey never ordered a statewide mask mandate. In June 2020, he gave local jurisdictions authority over the issue. Other than that, he’s kept the power to regulate all of the state’s COVID-19 response in his own hands.

Most of the state wound up with mask mandates, but those remaining can no longer be enforced under Thursday’s order.

The announcement came as the state surpassed 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered.

“As we’ve said all along, distribution of the vaccine is our best path to getting back to normal, and I want to thank the millions of Arizonans who have rolled up their sleeves to make the distribution and uptake so successful,” Ducey said.

He also noted that the number of coronavirus cases has been declining for 10 weeks and hospitalizations are at their lowest levels since early October.

Ducey has been easing the state’s COVID-related restrictions as the metrics have improved since peaking in January.

Earlier this month, he lifted capacity restrictions on businesses covered under his June 2020 executive order. However, until Thursday, the requirements for physical distancing and mask use remained in effect for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, indoor fitness centers, indoor theaters and water parks.

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For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

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

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