Phoenix, Tucson close bars, limit restaurant dining to stop coronavirus spread

By: - March 17, 2020 3:49 pm
coronavirus covid-19 restaurant closed

The Veggie Grill restaurant is empty on March 16, 2020 in downtown Seattle. Washington state Governor Jay Inslee ordered all bars, restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities to temporarily close to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Photo by Karen Ducey | Getty Images

The cities of Phoenix and Tucson have declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic, shutting down bars and sharply limiting restaurant operations. 

There are currently 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Arizona. No one has died from COVID-19, the virus that is caused by the coronavirus in Arizona.

Nationwide, there are more than 4,200 verified COVID-19 cases in the United States and 45 people have died.

“Based on input from healthcare professionals, business leaders, & community members, PHX is declaring a state of emergency forcing immediate closure of bars & moving restaurants to delivery/take-out/drive-thru only starting 8PM tonight,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. 

The City of Tucson took similar actions, Mayor Regina Romero announced.

Takeout and delivery restaurants will remain open during the states of emergency in both cities. Neither mayor indicated how long the restrictions will last. 

“We understand this is incredibly difficult for our small businesses and the workforce that will be impacted by this,” Gallego said in a video statement posted to Twitter, adding that she spoke with business and healthcare leaders before making the decision. Gallego said that healthcare professionals told her that declaring a state of emergency will help prevent further community spread.  

“I want to reiterate that food being served by our restaurants is safe,” Romero said in a statement. “It is the congregation of individuals in a dine-in setting that is unsafe.” 

Romero’s order also closes lobbies of city buildings through the end of March, including City Hall, and suspends evictions on city owned property until the end of April. Water shut-offs will also be suspended until the end of April  

Flagstaff declared a similar state of emergency on Monday, and Tempe is considering approving an ordinance authorizing the mayor to declare a citywide emergency, something that hasn’t been done since 1964. 

Additionally on Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Public Health issued new recommendations to restaurants in the areas where community spread has been occuring. Community spread of COVID-19 has been documented in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties. 

The Department is urging restaurants in those counties to discourage dining in and instead provide curbside pick-up or drive through services. 

“If dine-in options are provided, social distancing measures should be implemented, providing space for customers to be placed at least 6 feet apart, and limiting space for customers to congregate in areas of the restaurant,” the Department said on Twitter

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, has said Gov. Doug Ducey is endangering Arizonans by not ordering bars closed and restricting restaurant activity. 

How you can tell if you might have been impacted

Symptoms of coronavirus resemble that of the flu. So, if you’re experiencing coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, you should consider getting checked out. Call your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center or emergency room — but call the health care provider before you go so they can be prepared for your arrival. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is taking COVID-19 calls: 1-844-542-8201

How the coronavirus spreads

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

How to prevent spreading the coronavirus

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Don’t use your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including counter tops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.