(The Center Square) – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced he had removed the state’s COVID-19 mitigation orders amid gradually falling infection rates and increases in vaccinations.
Why, then, are Arizonans still being asked to mask up in schools, certain cities, government buildings and some businesses?
Under Ducey’s order, which was announced last week, he largely removed any business capacity requirements and ordered cities, counties and others that were allowed to mandate facial coverings to remove them.
“I’m confident Arizona’s businesses and citizens will continue to practice the fundamentals and act responsibly as we gradually get back to normal,” Ducey said.
Unlike most governors, Ducey resisted a statewide mask mandate.
Some mayors, such as Tucson’s Regina Romero, said they would defy the governor and leave their local mask ordinance in effect. Romero, like others, largely refrained from punishing residents for not wearing a mask when in a place the city required them to do so. Local units of government still may require masks to be worn on their government property.
Beyond dissident cities, masks still are required when a private business asks patrons to do so, and many still do.
The federal government requires masks to be donned when in airports or mid-flight. The same goes for other forms of public transportation.
Ducey’s order caught criticism from members of the medical community, who said it’s too early to be removing capacity limits and mask requirements.
“This number needs to be much higher before we ease mitigation measures like masking,” Banner Health said in a statement. “Masks play a vital role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. It is still important to wear masks in public while our vaccination rate is low in order to protect those who are at high risk and also those who have not had the opportunity to get their vaccine, yet.”