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'You have a patriotic duty to open up safely,' Arizona governor tells business owners
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'You have a patriotic duty to open up safely,' Arizona governor tells business owners

From the May's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: Cases rise, judge rules that state can keep nursing home data from public series
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Debra Roff, left, rings up Frank Anderson at Coyote Pause Café, 2740 S. Kinney Rd., in Tucson, Ariz., on May 11, 2020. Coyote Pause Café has decreased their seating to less than 50% to allow for social distancing along with signage about COVID-19 and social distancing. There are sneeze-guards, made by the employees, at the counter tops. There are also small trash bags placed at every table for customers to place their trash allowing employees to decrease the amount of items they touch.

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey is telling business owners that their ability to remain open — and the future of Arizona’s economy — will depend on how well they follow the voluntary protocols designed to prevent a COVID-19 spike.

“I think you have a patriotic duty to open up safely and successfully,” the Republican governor told a variety of business owners on a conference call Thursday.

“We all know how important that is to rebuild consumer confidence,” he said. “I know what you’re doing is what’s going to bring our economy back.”

But Ducey said he needs more: “I’m also asking for your help inside your industry to hold yourselves accountable and your customers accountable, as well as your peers in the industry, that positive peer pressure.”

It’s natural to want to compete for business, he said. “But we need to be responsible on this.”

Ducey is allowing his stay-at-home order for Arizonans to end at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 16. He also has expanded the kinds of businesses that can open to include restaurants, bars, beauty salons, fitness centers and movies.

The governor said making that work, though, is linked to maintaining “social distancing” to prevent the virus from spreading further. And that, he said, depends on businesses complying with protocols and recommendations.

“You are going to determine the success of this economy,” and the rebuilding of consumer confidence, Ducey said.

That self-policing also means avoiding bad publicity that can undermine the desire of Arizonans to go out, he said.

“Our press is interested in zeroing in on outliers … not the good work that everyone who’s on this call is doing,” Ducey said.

That theme was repeated as he addressed allowing pools at hotels and resorts to reopen.

“There’s a lot of people in Arizona who need a ‘staycation,’ ” he said. “Please make sure there is good behavior, that people are safe, and that there’s good optics so we don’t give the media the story they’re looking for.

“Let the story be Arizona’s success and safety and good common sense, just like it’s been for the last nine weeks.”

The plea was personal.

“I’m counting on the folks on the line here,” he said. “Help us with your peers in the industry. We don’t need any outliers or bad actors.”

Ducey also had to tell some on the phone call that the relief they seek is not yet available.

Much of the tourism business relies on hosting conferences and meetings, said Ronen Aviram, general manager of the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale. But the guidance the state is providing prevents gatherings of more than 10.

Ducey told Aviram there’s nothing he can do right now because that guidance, which comes from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is based on Arizona’s status in controlling the virus.

“These phases can go as quickly as 14 days at a time,” he said. Only when there are more positive signs about the spread of the virus can the state ease the rules more. Ducey said he can’t make any commitment right now when Arizona will get there.

“I really want to be in a position where I’m under-promising and over-delivering,” he said, promising to send the hotel manager a copy of the criteria. “I think you’ll see where we are right now and where we could be in two or four weeks. I know that might not be the answer that you’re looking for.”

In response to another question, Ducey said any criticism aimed at him because churches and other houses of worship are closed is misdirected.

“The governor doesn’t have the authority to shut down churches. The churches never closed by the hand of the state,” he said, saying those decisions were made by “our pastors and our priests and our rabbis.”

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