Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted capacity restrictions at gyms, restaurants and other businesses on Friday.
Ducey cites the decline in COVID-19 cases and the launch of the vaccine, as it eases life-changing pandemic restrictions for nearly a year.
The lifting of capacity restrictions applies to gyms, restaurants, theaters, water parks, bowling alleys and bars that provide dining services.
Arizona has not had a statewide mask mandate. But most local governments have implemented them and are not affected by Ducey’s latest order.
Despite being legally allowed to resume operations at 100% capacity, two restaurants are being cautious about letting in more customers due to health concerns and other state guidelines holding back a full restaurant.
Governor Ducey said that even without capacity limitations, restaurants and businesses must still adhere to the six-foot social distancing guidelines.
“You still need that extra space to make sure you’re doing the required social distancing,” said Summer Anesin, owner of Little O’s restaurants. “With the 6 foot spacing restrictions, there is not going to be a lot of opportunity for 100% capacity.”
The need for social distancing, in most cases, naturally negates the ability to return to full capacity.
“Even as the fear factor that people have and like security, we didn’t want to be like, ‘Bam! Free for all,'” Anesin said.
“There is no way I can do it 100%,” said Silvana Esparza, owner of Barrio Café. “Even if I could, I wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be the ethical right thing to do, the right thing to put people in danger?”
The Arizona Restaurant Association is delighted with the Governor’s decision.
“Arizona restaurants have done an incredible job of implementing mitigation measures, protecting customers and staff, and staying flexible,” said Arizona Restaurant Association President and CEO Steve Chucri. “Limited occupancy and mitigation measures have been in place for many months; our restaurants know what to do. Today’s order to lift occupancy restrictions will help Arizona’s restaurant industry prosper, while maintaining community safety through mitigation measures. Thanks to Governor Ducey for working to protect Arizonans and our economy. “