The governor’s Stay at Home Order fully expired a couple of weeks ago. So, what have we learned about how Arizonans and Arizona businesses behaved after this 2-week experiment under the new (largely voluntary) expectations? 

You’ve probably made your own observations in the community.  Many retail stores now have decent mitigation measures in place, but not all.  Many customers are paying attention to the social distancing recommendations including distancing and mask wearing in public.  

But, there are also many examples of large groups of people and businesses that are simply ignoring the expectations in Executive Order 36 (provision number 5) which include establishing and implementing best-practice mitigation measures recommended by the CDC and OSHA etc.  Just check out this short video of the goings on in Old Town Scottsdale last weekend.

So why are some places doing it right while some places (and groups of people) are behaving irresponsibly and jeopardizing the health of all of us?  

In a nutshell, I’d say it’s because there’s a lack of enforcement for the scofflaws.  So, what’s the answer?  How can we get the minority of people and businesses that are ignoring mitigation expectations to step it up and start behaving responsibly?

Actually, it’s pretty simple. City governments have the boots on the ground ability to put local ordinances in place and have the resources and the chain of command to make sure that everybody is playing by the rules.

The problem is that Executive Order 36 (provision 7) prohibits city governments from implementing and enforcing mitigation expectations within their jurisdictions.  A simple move that would make a big difference would be for the governor to eliminate the language that ties the hands of city government from doing anything about the scofflaws.

By the way, cities are great at handling local problems. They have extensive experience breaking up nuisance parties and providing local businesses with expectations in line with their zoning requirements.  They also have resources to responsibly get compliance by using city inspectors and even law enforcement if that becomes necessary.  Why not let them do their job- especially now when the stakes are so high?

Arizona is a super diverse state. Just think about the differences between places like Yuma, Chino Valley, Jerome and Old Town Scottsdale. Super different places, both in terms of the spread of COVID-19 and the kinds of behaviors that result in amplifying the virus. The problem is that right now (because of E.O. 36) we have a one-size fits-all statewide policy for a state that isn’t one size.

We urge the governor to tweak Executive Order 36 and give city governments the opportunity to implement and enforce reasonable measures that would allow them to put the brakes on the kinds of behavior in their communities that are jeopardizing the health of the rest of us.

We’ve all sacrificed too much to let our progress slip away because we’ve locked up the toolbox.