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Arizona Governor Rolls Back State Reopening


Coronavirus infections in Arizona have jumped 118% in the last two weeks, and that's led the Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to walk back efforts to reopen the economy. On Monday, he ordered bars, gyms, clubs and water parks to close. From member station KJZZ, Ben Giles reports.

BEN GILES, BYLINE: Over the weekend, more than a thousand Arizona health professionals signed a petition criticizing the governor's pandemic response as too little, too late. Ducey is focused on education and recommendations instead of requirements and enforcement. Phoenix physician Christine Severance organized the petition.

CHRISTINE SEVERANCE: People clearly have not responded well to the education and telling them their risks and pleading with them and, you know, recommending strongly. So it seems like the only way we can make it work is to shut things down.

GILES: On Monday, Ducey said some, but not all, businesses in the state will have to remain closed for at least the next 30 days.


DOUG DUCEY: I think we also saw the photos and videos of some of the things that were happening around our state this weekend, and the result of that has been an increase in the spread.

GILES: To reopen, bars, gyms, movie theaters and water recreation businesses will have to have plans approved by the state. The governor is also discouraging gatherings of 50 people or more. Political events or religious services are exempted. The group that petitioned Ducey to take action says the governor's new order doesn't go far enough. They want a second statewide shutdown and a mask mandate. Phoenix restaurant owner Dwayne Allen is among small business owners who fault Ducey's actions so far. He says the focus on reopening the economy and providing businesses flexibility to open in May came at the expense of public health.

DWAYNE ALLEN: I think that was a wholly misguided approach. For any business community to be successful, there has to be confidence in the market. And when you have a hodgepodge approach, such as we've seen from how the governor has approached this pandemic, the result is a lack of confidence.

GILES: Allen had tentatively planned to reopen in October. Now he's pushing that plan to January or later. Other restaurants have and continue to back Ducey's handling of the pandemic.

For NPR News, I'm Ben Giles in Phoenix. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ben Giles (KJZZ)