Arizona lawmaker says cities should not mandate business closures




    Kern coronavirus restaurant tweet
    Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, posted this picture on Twitter March 17, 2020, mocking Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego's state of emergency closing all restaurant dining rooms at 8 p.m. that day. Pictured (L to R): Kern; Sen. David Gown, R-Sierra Vista; Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley; Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City. Image via Twitter.

    Republican Rep. Anthony Kern said he believes that cities should not be allowed to mandate when businesses are allowed to close and questions the validity of emergency measures taken by cities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

    “If people are complying, why are we mandating that they shut down?” Kern told Arizona Mirror on Wednesday. “Let (businesses) choose what to do” 

    On Tuesday evening, shortly after the 8 p.m. deadline that the City of Phoenix set for restaurant dining rooms and bars to close indefinitely under a state of emergency issued earlier in the day, Kern posted a photo of himself and three other GOP lawmakers pointing at a clock in the dining room at a swanky Phoenix steakhouse.

    The since-deleted tweet showed Kern and fellow Republicans Rep. Mark Finchem, Sen. David Gowan and Sen. Sonny Borrelli in the restaurant with “#resist” and “#freedomofassembly”. 

    Kern said he deleted the tweet after one of the legislators in the photo – he wouldn’t say who – asked him to delete. Calls to Borrelli, Finchem and Gowan were not returned. 

    “There was nobody there last night,” Kern said, adding that it was an “Arizona restaurant” when asked where he was eating. Multiple people who viewed the photo on Twitter identified the dining room as the Capital Grille in Phoenix.

    Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Donald Trump, Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services have recommended that people not dine in restaurants or other shared dining spaces, such as food courts, Kern said that the lawmakers were following best practices. 

    “Our goal is to flatten the curve. At that dinner we had 6 people,” Kern said. He didn’t identify the other two people, nor did he say if the diners sat at least six feet apart, as Arizona public health officials recommend.


    Kern added that he said he isn’t sure cities have the constitutional authority to use emergency declarations to require businesses to close, and said he thinks it is something the legislature should “look into.” 

    Kern said that he and his Republican colleagues are working to try to find a way to support local businesses during the pandemic, but was not sure what form such help might take or when it would be addressed by lawmakers. 

    How you can tell if you might have been impacted

    Symptoms of coronavirus resemble that of the flu. So, if you’re experiencing coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, you should consider getting checked out. Call your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center or emergency room — but call the health care provider before you go so they can be prepared for your arrival. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is taking COVID-19 calls: 1-844-542-8201

    How the coronavirus spreads

    • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
    • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
    • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

    How to prevent spreading the coronavirus

    • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Don’t use your hands.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    • Clean surfaces frequently, including counter tops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
    • Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
    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.