ARIZONA NEWS

Ducey rips Phoenix for restrictions, makes state parks free this weekend

Apr 2, 2021, 11:55 AM | Updated: 4:40 pm

Gov. Doug Ducey poses after receiving his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Tucson on March 24, 20...

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

(Twitter Photo/@uarizona)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey ripped Phoenix officials Friday for implementing restrictions at city parks over Easter weekend. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego hit back a few hours later.

While taking swipes at Phoenix, Ducey encouraged Arizonans to have outdoor get-togethers and announced that all Arizona State Parks and Trails will have free admission Saturday-Sunday.

He labeled Phoenix’s efforts to discourage large gatherings at parks “another political power” grab in a video posted to social media.

He also sent a letter to Gallego calling the city’s Saturday-Sunday ban on parking and grilling at its parks “a shame.”

Gallego posted a response addressed to Ducey on Twitter about 3½ hours later.

In it, she wondered why it took him until the day before the weekend in question to respond to an ordinance passed by the Phoenix City Council by a 9-0 vote on March 16, more than two weeks earlier.

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department posted the restrictions on Twitter on March 26, and the city’s main account retweeted it that day and multiple times afterward.

“Your letter this morning is not only surprising, but also legally wrong and scientifically unfounded,” she wrote.

Gallego has been a frequent critic of the way Ducey has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Ducey rescinded most of the state’s mitigation restrictions last week and ordered an end to all local face mask mandates, Gallego tweeted that his “decision directly contradicts the best scientists in the field.”

On Friday, Ducey attempted to turn that the argument around on Gallego.

“If we’re really following the science, we know that being outdoors is safer,” he said in the video.

“This is clearly nothing more than another political power grab. It’s not a health decision. It’s a beautiful weekend, so get outside.”

(The National Weather Service is forecasting the highest temperatures of the year this weekend, with projected highs of 97 on Saturday and 99 on Sunday.)

Ducey’s letter to Gallego cites recent guidance for the Easter holiday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says, in part, “If you plan to celebrate with others, outdoors is safer than indoors.”

Gallego’s response accused Ducey of cherry-picking details from the CDC.

“The same guidance you selectively cite begins with recommendations that people ‘gather virtually’ or ‘with people who live with you,’” she wrote.

“Only after listing several more recommended options, does the CDC state that if ‘you plan to celebrate with others, outdoors is safer than indoors.’ That same guidance goes on to reiterate the need to ‘wear a mask indoors and outdoors.’”

Ducey wrote that he was “demanding” Phoenix to open parking lots and permit grilling as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Otherwise, I will assume that this action will have a direct correlation to case increases in the coming weeks,” Ducey wrote.

Gallego jabbed back by saying Ducey’s own executive order rolling back locally implemented mask mandates left cities with control “to set and enforce mitigation policies” at their own properties.

Earlier Friday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported the largest single-day number of new COVID-19 case in three weeks.

Arizona has more than 30 state parks. While admission will be free at most of them this weekend, fees for entry into the Colorado River and Yuma Territorial Prison state historic parks and tours at Kartchner Caverns State Park still apply.

More information is available at the Arizona State Parks and Trails department website.

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Ducey rips Phoenix for restrictions, makes state parks free this weekend