On Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announced that the city of Phoenix is declaring a state of emergency. This is indication that the city of Phoenix will be forcing the bars and restaurants to close all of their dine-in options and stick to take out or drive-thru only. This will take place in Phoenix starting on Tuesday night at 8:00PM. The city of Tucson did the same on Tuesday and Flagstaff did this as well on Monday.
On Monday, March 16th, 2020 the city of Gilbert declared a local state of emergency while Tempe is preparing to vote to do the same this week as cities across the Valley and nation expand measures to fight the Coronavirus. What a state of emergency does, is it allows mayors to “govern by proclamation,” meaning they can do things such as force restaurant to close, organize public safety responses or even impose curfews.
This means that in Phoenix, any violation of the mayor’s emergency proclamation would be considered a misdemeanor.
On Monday, Senator Kyrsten Sinema called on Arizona to act far more aggressively, urging the state to temporarily close “clubs, bars, museums, libraries, gyms, and other places where large groups congregate.”
Other Cites Declaring State of Emergency
The mayor of the city of Gilbert, Jenn Daniels has declared a state of emergency on Tuesday so the town could close municipal buildings and have better access to resources and tools. Municipal buildings cannot close to the public unless the town is under a state of emergency, so the mayor did this for safety and to protect employees and visitors.
It also allows Gilbert to have quicker access to supplies for first respondents. The mayor of Gilbert had this to say about the virus, “You do this in order to basically put yourself ahead of the line, if you will.”
According to state statues and town ordinances, Jenn Daniels now has full authority to take more serious measures. Daniels can now impose curfews, order businesses to close, shut down any public streets or places and call upon law enforcement within or outside of Gilbert to help.
Daniels also said that “it would be irresponsible for myself or any leader to completely remove options from the table at this time.”
She also encourages residents to visit local restaurants by taking out or doing curbside pickup or delivery.
“I don’t know when the last time is the town ever declared a state of emergency, so we’re going based on what the ordinances say,” Daniels said. “We’re not trying to issue ourselves any additional or new powers, we’re just trying to be able to react swiftly.”
Others Considering The Same But Not Yet Declaring State of Emergency
The Tempe City Council announced a special meeting for Thursday, March 19th, 2020 to vote on approving a citywide emergency. According to the city charter, the pass of the vote would require a “yes” vote from at least 6 of the 7 council members.
According to a news release from the city of Tempe, Mayor Mark Mitchell would then have the authority to enact “necessary emergency response measures via proclamation.”
On Monday evening, Flagstaff became the 1st Arizona city to take such measures when Mayor Coral Evans issued a proclamation closing a number of businesses and restaurants. The proclamation bans all restaurants and other food or drink businesses from allowing on-site dining. It also closes a number of gathering and entertaining places like bars, theaters, gyms and bowling alleys.
Meanwhile, the rest of the West Valley cities will hold off for now. The bars and restaurants closed on the west valley will be closed on their own (so far), aside from the rest of the west valley cities until the mayors are advised to go into a state of emergency.
No West Valley cities have issued emergency proclamations so far.