Ducey orders closure of salons, barber shops, playgrounds and more during coronavirus
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Ducey orders closure of salons, barber shops, playgrounds and more during coronavirus

Sacred Art Tattoo in Tucson was open on March 27, 2020. The governor ordered tattoo shops, hair salons, barber shops, etc. to close.

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday ordered the shuttering of barbershops, beauty and nail salons, spas and similar services, as well as swap meets, playgrounds and public pools, conceding they can’t be operated safely during the pandemic.

The edict, which takes effect at 5 p.m. Saturday, narrows his original list of “essential services” that may stay open during the state’s coronavirus emergency, which earlier prompted him to order all nonessential businesses to close.

He is now ordering, for instance, the closure of any amenities at public parks “that do not allow for recommended physical distancing or proper hygiene,” including basketball courts, playgrounds, public restrooms and pools.

But Ducey spelled out Friday that everything else in public parks “shall remain open to the greatest extent possible.”

Also closing under the governor’s order will be swap meets; communal pools at hotels, condo communities and apartment complexes; and all tanning salons, tattoo shops and massage businesses.

Friday’s order came nearly two weeks after questions were first raised about the governor’s decision to not only allow barbershops and hair salons to remain open, but to specifically prohibit the state’s 91 cities and towns and 15 counties from using local orders to shutter them.

Because of Ducey’s original order, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero did not include these businesses in her own proclamation on March 27 temporarily closing certain other types of businesses in the city. Instead, because of the governor’s executive order, Romero said then that she could only “strongly recommend” that such personal hygiene businesses close during the pandemic.

In choosing not to buck Ducey on that point, Romero made it clear she did not want any possible legal challenge that could cost Tucson its share of state revenue-sharing dollars.

On Friday, Romero said Ducey is now doing the right thing — even if, as she says, he had to be pressured into it by herself and other mayors.

“I’m glad that he heeded our call, that he heard us as the front-line jurisdiction that sees this firsthand and the concerns that cities had about being able to provide safety and health in our community,” she said.

Romero said it was not just the mayors who were concerned. “I think he heard the community and all Arizonans, loud and clear, as well,” she said.

“This is not about vindication,” Romero said. “It’s something that is good for every Arizonan.”

Friday’s directive by the governor also legitimizes the order by Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans who, defying Ducey, had previously ordered salons and similar businesses shuttered in her city. State Rep. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, had pledged to file a complaint that could have resulted in the loss of Flagstaff’s state aid.

Evans was pleased by Ducey’s new direction.

“He’s updated his executive order to reflect the fact that we are trying to prevent people from dying,” she said. “I think it’s been two weeks of him growing his understanding about the severity of this issue.”

Ducey had previously said hair and nail salons and similar businesses were essential “personal hygiene services” that could be safely operated even during the pandemic. On Friday, he said “guidance from public health officials evolves.”

“During these unprecedented times, providing clarity for small businesses and employers is an important measure to ensure we protect our citizens, slow the spread of COVID-19, and protect this critical part of our economy,” Ducey said in a prepared statement.

Ducey’s press aide Patrick Ptak echoed that Friday’s order was not a concession that the original list of essential services issued on March 23 was too broad and risky from a health perspective.

“As we’ve said all along, as guidance from health officials evolves we’ll continue to release information and direction as needed,” Ptak said.

He said the governor indicated during an hourlong televised live town hall Thursday evening that he was already considering revamping his original order.

The flip side of Ducey’s new order spells out which personal hygiene services he still designates as essential and off limits to local regulation.

Most notably, this list includes motels and hotels used for lodging. Their restaurants also can remain open but only to provide delivery or carryout food services, like other restaurants in the state.

RV parks also are listed as essential.

The permitted list also includes day-care centers, but only those that provide for the children of individuals who are working at other essential jobs.

In drawing the line against certain outdoor activities, such as basketball courts, Ptak said Ducey was focused on what can be done safely.

“The guidance is to eliminate, cancel or postpone social gatherings of 10 or more,” he said. “Activities that could lend themselves to people congregating for that type of physical contact were the ones we wanted to clarify would be considered nonessential.”

While Evans praised the governor to coming around to her thinking on beauty salons and barbers, she said Ducey should consider greater restrictions.

She wants grocery stores to go entirely to either delivery or pickup mode, where people can call in or email their orders.

The issue, Evans said, is keeping not just shoppers safe but also employees at grocery stores who have to interact with customers.

“They don’t get hazard pay,” she said.

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