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Bars near ASU are closing due to COVID-19 concerns

The temporary closures come after the CDC advised against gathering in groups of 10 or more

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In this photo taken with a slow shutter speed, a pedestrian crosses Mill Avenue at 5th Street on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Tempe.

Concerns over the spread of COVID-19, or the new coronavirus, have pushed some bars and restaurants on Mill Avenue and near campus to decide between staying open or temporarily shutting their doors. 

The debate comes after Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego declared a state of emergency Tuesday in response to the coronavirus, asking that Phoenix bars close by 8 p.m. and that restaurants shift to a takeout, delivery or drive-thru only model. 

"What our community is experiencing right now is unprecedented," Gallego wrote in a statement on the matter. "The steps we take will define the future of our city and our residents."

The decisions also follow President Donald Trump and his administration's Monday announcement that gatherings should be limited to less than 10 people and that people should try to avoid discretionary travel, bars and restaurants. 

Earlier this week, the Arizona Department of Health Services did not recommend the cancellation of events. However, the department now recommends canceling or postponing any gatherings larger than 50 people after reviewing new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

ADHS also announced new recommendations for bars and restaurants following Trump's announcement. 

The organization recommended that bars discourage dining in, and they should instead offer curbside pickup and drive-thru options, adding that businesses should seat customers at least 6 feet apart from one another to promote social distancing and to create social distancing protocols for their employees. 

Despite the recommendations, the city of Tempe has not yet declared a citywide emergency, and bars and restaurants have not been asked to close their doors. However, Tempe City Council will consider approval of an ordinance allowing the mayor to declare a state of emergency on Thursday. 

If approved, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell would then have the authority to enact emergency response measures, such as ordering bars and restaurants to close and pivot to take-out and delivery options, according to the city of Tempe's website. 

Local bars and restaurants are taking mixed approaches to the changes in government recommendations. 

Azcentral reported that Evening Entertainment Group, a local company that owns several restaurants and bars in Old Town Scottsdale, has decided to close all their locations temporarily.

Sunbar Tempe, Casa Tempe, El Hefe Tempe and Charlie Trumbull's decided to close this morning but have not yet released official statements on the matter.

The restaurant and concert venue Shady Park said "of course" they are considering closing, but “it’s kind of a fluid situation.”

Varsity Tavern said that for the time being, they have decided to stay open unless they are forced to close. Vine Tavern & Eatery, Rúla Búla Irish Pub, Casey Moore's Oyster House and Pedal Haus Brewery in Tempe have all decided to remain open as long as they are allowed to.

Some businesses that are staying open are taking additional precautions in response. 

Monkey Pants Bar & Grill said they have changed some policies to protect employees and customers, and Devil's Advocate Bar & Grill posted about their updated precautions on Instagram

Riot Hospitality Group, a company that manages multiple local restaurants including Riot House and El Hefe, also posted a list of new protocols on all their websites.

Some local governments are implementing restrictions on certain businesses. Monday, Washington D.C., ordered the closure of nightclubs and bars, and on Sunday, the state of Virginia prohibited events with more than 100 people.

 Reach the reporters at and and follow @G_Mira_ and @vandana_rav on Twitter. 

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