Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, announced on Friday that he was lifting coronavirus restrictions on businesses limiting how many customers could be served at one time.
“For businesses, physical distancing and mask protocols will remain in place, however specific occupancy percentage limitations will expire. This applies to restaurants, gyms, theaters, water parks, bowling alleys, and bars providing dine in services,” the governor’s office announced in a statement. “Spring Training and Major League Sports will have the ability to operate upon submission and approval of a plan to the Arizona Department of Health Services that demonstrates implementation of safety precautions and physical distancing.”
The statement added that local entities and mayors would be prohibited from implementing “extreme measures that shut down businesses.”
“We’ve learned a lot over the past year,” Ducey said. “Our businesses have done an excellent job at responding to this pandemic in a safe and responsible way. We will always admire the sacrifice they and their employees have made and their vigilance to protect against the virus.
“Unlike other states, we never did a shutdown here in Arizona,” he added. “We withstood the calls from the extremes on both sides, and we will continue to ignore them. We always knew that fighting this virus would be dependent on the personal responsibility of everyday Arizonans.”
The governor said encouraged people to still wear a mask, practice social distancing, and to practice good hygiene.
The news out of Arizona comes after Texas and Mississippi both announced this week that they were dropping their mandatory mask mandates and were allowing businesses to reopen to full capacity. Both Republican governors encouraged people to still take proper precautions and to listen to local health officials.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.”
“So today, I’m issuing a new executive order that rescinds most of the earlier executive orders,” Abbott said. “Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I’m ending the statewide mask mandate.”
“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules,” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said on Tuesday. “Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”
“Executive orders that interfered with peoples’ lives were the worst, but the only possible, intervention for much of the last year,” Reeves said. “Now, we are putting our focus towards rapid vaccine distribution. We are getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.