All Arizona counties meet benchmarks for closed businesses to reopen




covid 19
Gov. Doug Ducey gives a briefing on the state's handling of COVID-19 during a news conference in Phoenix July 16, 2020. Photo by Cheryl Evans/The Arizona Republic | Pool photo

All 15 of Arizona’s counties now meet benchmarks to reopen indoor gyms, bars and movie theaters that were shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Businesses that were shuttered in these counties now can begin to reopen, but must submit an online form to the Arizona Department of Health Services stating they’ll follow certain public health guidelines such as limiting occupancy, promote hygiene among staff and require masks. 

Water parks will also be able to reopen, but with limited capacity. 

Graham County was the last county to pass into the moderate transmission stage of the virus, meaning that there are less than 100 cases per 100,000 people in the county. Greenlee County is the only county in the state with a minimal transmission rate. 

“COVID-19 remains in our communities, so it’s essential that everyone continue masking up, maintaining physical distance, washing our hands thoroughly and often, and taking other steps to reduce the spread,” ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said in a written statement Thursday about the benchmarks. 

In late June, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered those businesses to close amid the on-going pandemic, while also prohibiting gatherings larger than 50 people. About six weeks later, and after many of those businesses filed lawsuits challenging his executive orders, Ducey laid out his plan for reopening those businesses that established the benchmarks.  

The guidelines also comply with a Maricopa County judge’s ruling that ordered the state to create a process for reopening businesses. A judge in August rejected Mountainside Fitness’s request to overturn Ducey’s executive order that closed gyms, but said his office must provide gyms with an opportunity to apply for permission to reopen.

There have been 219,212 cases of COVID-19 in Arizona and 5,674 deaths as of Oct. 1, according to AzDHS.

Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.