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Restaurant owners push back on new regulations in Pima County

Board of Supervisors to discuss changes Thursday
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Posted at 4:51 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 23:25:15-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - It was a heated call with the public, as more than a dozen restaurant owners explained their frustration with what they called "micromanaging" by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

"Stop micromanaging and telling us how to live our lives, “ implored one restaurant owner.

Others said the additional regulations are preventing them from running their business.

“If this keeps up, if COVID doesn’t kill our bodies, it’ll certainly kill our businesses," said another restaurant owner on the call.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to pose 17 additional regulations on Pima County restaurants on May 13. Those regulations caught the attention of several Arizona lawmakers, who requested an investigation by the state's attorney general.

Many restaurant owners felt it was important to give a unified message that the regulations aren't realistic.

“We needed to speak out to get our voices heard. To show people that all the restaurants are united," said Travis Peters, owner of The Parish.

Owners expressed to the county they live off of their reputations of cleanliness.

“Our pride is to be a safe environment for our guests and our employees,” explained Michael Elefante, owner of Mama Louisa's.

Call-ahead seating was a regulation many restaurateurs spoke out against.

The owner of Sentinel Peak Brewing Co. questioned why restaurants need to follow the regulation if fast food joints and retail shops don't.

“We just want to be on the same playing field. We don’t want the public to have the belief that we are not as safe as a Walmart. We are a lot safer than a Walmart. I guarantee you we clean a lot more and sanitize a lot more than they do," said restaurant owner Taylor Clark.

Owners questioned why they have to follow regulations like wearing masks if others don't. Nicole van Widen owns The Dutch Eatery & Refuge expressed she doesn't feel as though regulations are being equally enforced.

“Today there are people in here, I say this with the utmost respect, who are not wearing masks. There are employees coming into this building not wearing masks. So I’m unsure why these regulations are only being placed on restaurants," said Nicole van Widen, owner of The Dutch Eatery & Refuge.

After lots of discussion, the board voted down two motions to change or cancel those regulations; however, the topic isn't over. The county is holding an emergency meeting in two days to take a look at possible changes to how the regulations are enforced.

“Let’s go ahead and qualify everything by the end of the workday and we’ll call an emergency meeting," said Supervisor Ramon Valadez.

The emergency meeting will be held Thursday at 2 p.m.