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Tempe, Mesa to become latest Valley cities to ease mask requirements

(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Tempe and Mesa on Monday became the latest Valley cities to announce an ease on mask requirements, with each soon dropping the mandate at public spaces.

Masks are recommended but not required at all city facilities in Tempe starting on Friday, and at all city facilities currently open to the public in Mesa effective May 24.

“The easing of these restrictions is a very cautious but positive step in the city of Mesa as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline and more people get vaccinated,” Mesa Mayor John Giles said in a press release.

“We urge residents and visitors in the City to keep taking precautions, including getting vaccinated, to ensure the safety of themselves and those around them.”

Masks will still be required on all public transportation in both cities, by federal order, as well as at Tempe Municipal Court by order of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Some city-administered programs in Tempe that serve vulnerable or unvaccinated populations, such as the Kid Zone program, will still require masks, according to a press release.

Meanwhile, Mesa government offices remain closed to the public, including Mesa City Plaza and the Mesa City Council Chambers.

Chandler and Scottsdale rolled back mask requirements last week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

Wearing masks is still recommended in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, according to the guidance.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors also voted Friday to repeal a resolution mandating mask-wearing, while Maricopa County in an email Monday said those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear a mask in Maricopa County government buildings.

While the mask requirement remains in place in Phoenix, the city council is expected to vote Wednesday on dropping the mandate but continuing to follow federal guidelines for public transportation.

Businesses and schools can still choose to require masks on their properties.

As vaccine numbers have grown, daily cases of the virus have fallen.

Over three million people have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday morning, representing 43.8% of the state’s population, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ dashboard.  More than 2.6 million people are also considered fully vaccinated against the virus.

Arizona hasn’t recorded a day with more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases reported since March 1 after nearly four months with daily case numbers in the thousands.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to state Phoenix’s mask mandate will be eased immediately upon approval of the vote, not on June 19. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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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