Pima County officials pass mask mandate, but they probably can’t enforce it

Dec 21, 2021, 1:31 PM
(Pima County Health Department)...
(Pima County Health Department)
(Pima County Health Department)

PHOENIX – Tucson-area officials voted Tuesday to require face masks indoors when social distancing isn’t possible even though it’s unlikely they can enforce the mandate.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed the measure by a 3-2 vote several hours after Gov. Doug Ducey preemptively tweeted that mask mandates can’t be enforced in Arizona.

“There is no mask mandate in Arizona. Remember that when the Pima County Board of Supervisors takes up the issue. … Arizona law clearly states businesses are NOT REQUIRED to enforce mask mandates that any city, town, county or other jurisdiction in this state established,” he said in an early-morning Twitter thread.

Ducey said mask usage should be a personal choice and promoted vaccines as the best tool for protecting against COVID-19.

Acting County Administrator Jan Lesher didn’t disagree with the legal aspect, telling the board that state law would make enforcing a mask mandate difficult. But she said it would be worth pursuing in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 at a time Arizona hospitals are filling up and the highly contagious omicron variant hasn’t yet made a significant impact in the state.

“This is a simple act the people of Pima County can take that shows that we are all in this together in working to stop the spread of this disease,” she said, according to a press release.

“The board’s action can serve as the impetus for everyone to show their community spirit and that they’re willing to do what’s necessary to protect themselves and their community.”

The resolution, which goes into effective immediately, requires face coverings when at least 6 feet of distancing can’t be maintained indoors.

“The public should view today’s vote as a rally cry for everyone in our community to take a simple and benign action that will go a long way to protect themselves and their community from the spread of a deadly disease,” District 2 Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz said, according to the release.

“Masks work if everyone wears them. So please wear one and help our community slow and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The Pima County Health Department website has printable signs saying “Mask Required To Enter” in English and Spanish that businesses can use.

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Pima County officials pass mask mandate, but they probably can’t enforce it