Virus Outbreak Arizona

All staffers at Flower Child restaurant, part of Fox Restaurant Concepts' Phoenix-based eateries, wear masks and gloves as the restaurant complies with guidelines as it is able to open up for dine-in service as Arizona slowly relaxes restrictions due to the coronavirus Monday, May 11, 2020, in Phoenix.

(The Center Square) – The Arizona General Assembly wants to give businesses the final say whether to require masks in their establishments. 

House Bill 2770 is only one sentence: “Notwithstanding any other law, a business in this state is not required to enforce on its premises a mask mandate that is established by this state, a city, town, or county or any other jurisdiction of this state.”

Should Ducey sign the bill, businesses no longer could be required to have workers or patrons don masks by order of the state or any other governmental unit. 

“The need for this bill is more evident than ever,” said Rep. Joseph Chaplik, R-Scottsdale. “Recent developments show that without a protection in the law, businesses and their customers are subject to the decisions of local rogue politicians who want to control you indefinitely.” 

Chaplik hopes the governor signs the bill, which the lawmaker said “does exactly what his temporary executive orders do,” only in perpetuity.

Ducey cited plummeting new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates Tuesday when he rescinded many of the remaining mitigations on businesses. That included enabling local governments to implement mask mandates. 

Despite the rollback of their powers, some local officials maintain their mask mandates still are in effect. 

Pima County officials decided Ducey doesn’t have the legal authority to prevent their health department from requiring masks to be worn. 

“This pandemic is not over. There are still hundreds of thousands of people in Pima County who are not vaccinated and who remain at risk for serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19,” Deputy County Attorney Dr. Francisco Garcia said Tuesday. “The best protection they have until they get vaccinated is for everyone to continue to wear their masks.”

Pima County's mandate from December said anyone age 5 or older must wear a mask in public unless they have a qualifying medical exemption or are able to maintain physical distance. The mandate comes with a $500 fine and potential loss of county business licensing. 

An official with Ducey’s office told KVOA-TV the matter is inconsequential since the county isn’t enforcing the mask mandate. No one in the Phoenix metropolitan area was cited for violating mask mandates, according to The Associated Press and admissions from city mayors. 

Managing Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a managing editor for The Center Square covering the western United States. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.