Arizona Gov. Ducey releases guidelines for 'paused businesses' to reopen

On Monday, Aug. 10, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released guidelines for "paused businesses" to follow to begin reopening once again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the last few months, gyms, bars, movie theaters and water parks have been among the businesses that have been forced to shut their doors, were allowed to reopen, then were shuttered once again on July 23.

Ducey's orders to close some of these businesses to help slow the spread sparked lawsuits from gym and bar owners.

The CEO of Mountainside Fitness took his concern to court about being forced to close his fitness clubs and a Maricopa County judge ruled gyms needed to be given guidance on how to reopen.

On Aug. 10, Ducey's office released guidelines for gyms, theaters, water parks, tubing, bars, and nightclubs to reopen if they follow guidelines using a red, yellow and green benchmark system.

The guidelines will be determined on a county by county basis.

Gyms can reopen at 25% capacity when the spread is considered "minimal." They can reopen to full capacity when the percent positive is at 3% in the county.

Bars and nightclubs can reopen at 50% capacity once the percent positive is at 3%. There's no date of when they can open at full capacity.

There are also sanitization guidelines that need to be followed.

When able to reopen, businesses will need to complete an "attestation" form, saying they will comply with the guidelines set forth. Businesses are warned that they can be shut down immediately if they aren't following guidelines.

Jeremiah Gratza, owner of Thunderbird Lounge says of the new guidelines, “Maricopa County hasn’t been less than a 3% positivity rate since before May. In my mind, if a casino is allowed to be open, or a business is allowed to be open with more than 50 people, and they don’t have to be closed if it’s above a 3% rate, then why do we have to be closed?”

Maricopa County, for example, has a 13.2% positivity as of Aug.  10, meaning businesses in the county are still weeks away from reopening.

“It’s tough. I’ve got 7 employees I’ve had to furlough that I didn’t want to do," Gratza said.

He opened Thunderbird Lounge in April of 2019. They didn’t get to celebrate their one year anniversary because his bar has been shut down since the end of March.

"We have a class 6 license which means we’re not allowed to operate right now," he explained.

They tried doing to-go orders, but he says business crashed when bars that served food were allowed to reopen.

As for gyms, Tangible Fitness in Phoenix had planned to reopen Aug. 11. Owner Chris Scheimann says there’s been a lack of clarity and leadership from the governor’s office.

“We’re going to open. I’m at a loss. I’ve been closed for a long time, I can’t afford this anymore. I’m so far in debt," said owner Tangible Fitness Chris Scheimann

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