Arizona takes cautious approach to economic reopening

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Governor extends stay-at-home order through May 15 but allows merchants to expand operations beginning May 4

Engineers inspect an Arizona facility where COVID-19 patients are treated. (AP file photo)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Arizona is planning a gradual reopening of its economy, as new COVID-19 deaths and cases are still being reported.

The state has recorded 7,648 coronavirus cases so far, including 320 deaths. A total of 446 new cases and 16 deaths were reported Thursday.

Gov. Doug Ducey late Wednesday extended through May 15 the state’s stay-at-home order, which limits individuals’ time away from home to essential activities like working in an essential business or picking up goods from one. At the same time, the governor said retail businesses now can resume operations through curbside pick-up next Monday.

In-person operations are authorized beginning May 8, provided businesses follow state and federal sanitation guidelines and make customers observe social distancing, he said.

Restaurants might be allowed to again offer dine-in services for customers later in May, as public health officials give the go-ahead and set transitional guidelines.

“Arizona’s focus has been protecting public health and slowing the spread of COVID-19 — and this approach is working,” Ducey said in announcing the changes. “Physical distancing is making a difference. We’re slowing the spread. The last thing we want to do now is undo these gains.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (AP photo)

Ducey characterized Arizona’s economic reopening as a “calm, steady approach” while allowing breathing space for small businesses that were forced to suspend operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Arizona is eager to re-energize our economy, and we will continue to take a gradual, step-by-step approach that’s guided by data and public health,” he said.

Arizona declared a health emergency due to COVID-19 on March 11, started restricting public access to businesses on March 17-19 and announced the stay-at-home order on March 30.

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