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Despite Ducey's Order, Tucson Mayor 'Strongly Advises' Salons, Barbershops To Close

By Scott Bourque, Ben Giles
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Saturday, March 28, 2020 - 10:51am
Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 2:00pm
Regina Romero
Regina Romero

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero ordered all non-essential businesses in the city to close down at 8 a.m. Saturday. A recent executive order from Gov. Doug Ducey complicates what mayors can label as “essential” services.

Ducey’s order designates barbershops, salons, spas, and other so-called personal hygiene businesses as essential — even though the prolonged close contact in those establishments violates CDC guidelines on social distancing.

While Mayor Romero legally couldn’t order those establishments to close, her order "strongly advises" businesses the Governor’s order calls “essential” to close anyway.

“In the absence of clear statewide direction, we are taking swift action at the local level to protect the health and well-being of Tucsonans,” Mayor Romero said in a statement. “We cannot afford to wait any longer; COVID-19 is not waiting and neither can we. If Governor Ducey is unwilling to take decisive action at the state level, then he needs to untie the hands of local jurisdictions and allow us to make decisions that are best for our individual communities."

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Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans took this a step further and ordered all salons, barbershops, and similar businesses to close Thursday evening.

In a proclamation Thursday, Evans acknowledged the governor's executive order listing what services he believes are "essential'' and therefore not subject to closure.

That list includes "personal hygiene services.”

But Evans told Capitol Media Services that she sees no way certain establishments can remain open and still protect public health.

"The CDC has been very clear that the COVID-19 is expanding at rates that we don't necessarily understand,'' she said. 

In response to Evans’ order, state Sen. Vince Leach (R-Tucson) threatened to file a complaint with Attorney General Mark Brnovich accusing Flagstaff of disobeying state law.

If Brnovich were to investigate and side with Leach, the mayor would have to rescind the order or risk the loss of Flagstaff’s share of state aid.

Leach said he’ll file similar complaints against other cities that follow Flagstaff.

But Evans said she's not defying the governor. She simply concluded that the kinds of places she is ordering shut do not fit within his definition of "personal hygiene services.''

Ducey's office says the governor's order is clear — cities can't order essential businesses to close, and businesses designated essential under the governor's order are under no obligation to obey a mayor's order.