Flagstaff mayor closes salons, says complaint unmerited

The mayor of Flagstaff said Friday that her decision to close nail salons and beauty parlors is not barred by the governor’s order blocking cities from expanding his list of businesses that can’t be shuttered to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Mayor Coral Evans said that Gov. Doug Ducey’s office has not provided a detailed list that she requested of “personal hygiene” businesses covered by the order he issued Monday. So she said she reviewed the actual order and state law to determine if she could issue her revised order. She decided she definitely could.

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“This is not about me and this is not about the governor — I want to be clear,” Evans said. “This is about saving lives.”

Republican Rep. Vince Leach, who represents a southern Arizona district 250 miles (402.3 kilometers) south of Flagstaff, threatened to ask the attorney general to investigate the legality of Evans’ order. Under state law, legislators can request an investigation to see if a city or county is violating state law or the constitution.

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“It’s important the state speak with one voice,” Leach said in a statement. “This action is not helpful, and it is illegal, and we plan to take this to the Arizona Attorney General to get it overturned.”

Leach hadn’t filed a complaint as of Friday evening, said Ryan Anderson, a spokesman for Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Ducey said in his Monday order it was important that cities and counties allow “essential services” to continue to operate. The expansive list includes personal services, grocery stores, government services, and even golf courses and other outdoor recreation sites. His action came after mayors took the lead in closing bars and gyms and prohibiting dine-in service at restaurants.

His spokesman, Patrick Ptak, didn’t respond to request for comment on Evans’ actions.

Evans ordered bars and restaurants closed last week, before the governor did the same, and said her only goal is to protect public health. She noted that there were no cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the new virus in Coconino County at that time and now there are more than 40, with two deaths.

“I would rather be conservative when it comes to protecting the lives of the people who live in my city than considered to be liberal with their lives,” she said. “There are 75,000 people in my city and I take my job very seriously. This is killing people and it’s sweeping across the nation and they don’t have a vaccination for it.”

The state has tallied at least 667 cases and 13 deaths as of Friday.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.