Some bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks, and tube operators in Maricopa and Pima counties, as well as six others, can begin to reopen with significantly reduced capacity and with social distancing measures in place as those counties have met the benchmarks to move into the "moderate" phase of reopening.
Pinal County was also expected to move into the "moderate" phase but remained in the "substantial" phase on Thursday, according to the latest numbers from ADHS.
ADHS requires county-specific public health benchmarks to be in the moderate or minimal transmission category in all three benchmarks for two weeks in order to begin the phased reopening of businesses. The dashboard was updated today. https://t.co/cc48pTZlHV #AZTogether pic.twitter.com/bF9UhgWJdJ
— AZ Dept of Health (@AZDHS) August 27, 2020
"This is a credit to all of the things Arizonans have done to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We’ve worn masks, physically distanced, washed our hands, and so much more. In short, we’ve made smart decisions for the common good. It’s important that we keep that up," ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said in a blog post on Thursday.
Under the "moderate" phase, indoor gyms can reopen at 25% capacity and bars and nightclubs (that serve food), movie theaters, water parks, and tube operators can reopen at 50% capacity, according to the state's benchmarks.
Businesses in those counties would not necessarily have to apply to reopen, but would instead have to fill out an attestation form and agree to follow the state's reopening guidelines for businesses, including mask requirements, increased cleaning and sanitization, encouraging social distancing, closing communal spaces, and screening staff members for COVID-19-like symptoms, among other requirements.
"Businesses not complying with the required mitigation measures will be subject to strict enforcement," ADHS said. Police, county health departments, and other state agencies will be responsible for enforcing those measures, the agency said.
ADHS has created a website, www.azhealth.gov/ComplianceCOVID-19, and a telephone hotline, 1-844-410-2157, where the public can submit complaints against businesses believed to be violating the reopening requirements.
Businesses found to be in violation could be closed until those violations are corrected, ADHS said.
Movie theaters closed in March and have remained closed since then. In June, Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order that again closed movie theaters, gyms, bars, nightclubs, water parks, and tube operators in response to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Restaurant dining rooms were also reduced to 50%, all efforts to slow the spread of the virus.