What’s happening Wednesday?
The Pima County Board of Supervisors has called an emergency meeting at 9 a.m. to consider declaring a state of emergency that could allow it to establish guidelines “for reopening certain businesses and activities.”
Don’t we already have guidelines, and aren't businesses already allowed to reopen?
Yes. The state is operating under reopening guidelines laid out in an executive order by Gov. Ducey. Under that order, businesses have been gradually allowed to reopen, including dine-in services at restaurants on May 11. That order expires May 15.
Will Ducey let it expire?
He could extend or modify it. He is holding a press conference Tuesday to address what reopening will look like going forward. He could make the call then. If Ducey extends it, Pima County would continue to fall under the order even if it goes forward with its own emergency declaration.
Then why would the county bother with its own declaration?
This could be a “just in case” move by the county. If Ducey doesn’t extend or modify the order, the county — if it declares an emergency — could have greater influence on the rules surrounding the reopening of businesses.
Why would the county care about that?
Pima County has made it clear it believes there should be stricter guidelines in place for the reopening of businesses — even though the reopening started last week with non-essential businesses. We spoke to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry about restaurants last week. He said, "When you look at the standards from the governor, there are some specific statements that are mandatory and then there's some that are pretty generic.”
What would the county make more strict?
The list is more specific than the direction from the state. It includes wellness/symptom checks for restaurant workers, vendors and contractors; cloth masks, gloves and frequent hand-washing for servers and personnel; single-use menus and no parties larger than 10 and no bar top seating, among other guidelines.
If Ducey extends the executive order, isn’t Pima County just wasting its time with an emergency declaration?
Probably not. The county Health Department oversees, among other things, restaurant inspections. It could codify some or all of its 17 points — even if only temporarily — and require restaurants to stick to them if they want to remain open.
Isn’t that an end run around the Governor’s Office?
That’s a good question and one that high-dollar lawyers would probably love to bat around.
What’s really going on here?
On the surface, the governor wants businesses back open and he believes his guidelines allow it to be done safely. Pima County says it wants the same thing but that stricter guidelines will ensure safety and could naturally embolden customers to return. It's also probably a safe bet to believe that Pima County thinks the governor acted too quickly on reopening the state. What’s happening below the surface is anybody’s guess.