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Ducey announces new plans to reopen businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic

Openings will include barbershops and salons on May 8 and dine-in restaurants on May 11

20200227 The Future of Education in Arizona 0003

Gov. Doug Ducey addresses the crowd at a talk titled “The Future of Education in Arizona” on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, at Coor Hall on the Tempe campus.    

Gov. Doug Ducey announced new plans on Monday to begin reopening businesses in phases amid the continued spread of COVID-19. 

Ducey said in a press conference that Arizona is "headed in the right direction" and stated that there is a downward trajectory in the number of influenza and COVID-19-like illnesses in hospitals, giving him the confidence to move forward with plans to reopen. 

Those plans include allowing barbershops and salons to offer appointment-based services on May 8, while restaurants can resume dine-in service on May 11. Retail businesses were allowed to resume operations with curbside services on May 4. 

"We’ve worked with industry leaders & public health officials to do this safely, while prioritizing physical distancing," Ducey said in a Tweet. 

He added that he still expects Arizona's stay-at-home order to lift on May 15. The order, which encourages Arizonans to only partake in essential activities and otherwise stay at home to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, went into effect on March 31 and was previously set to expire on April 30 before being extended. 

Ducey's plans make Arizona one of at least two dozen states that have allowed businesses to reopen under physical distancing guidelines, including encouraging patrons to stay home if sick and providing guidance for customers to stay at least six feet apart from one another. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services also recommended that restaurants resuming dine-in services follow additional guidelines, including limiting parties to no more than 10 patrons, reducing occupancy and capacity of restaurants, and sanitizing tables, chairs and other customer areas with EPA-registered disinfectant after each sitting. 

Ducey said the state would also begin piloting an "enhanced statewide contact tracing strategy" in Pima and Mohave counties, and that health officials will implement statewide tracing by Friday. 

Those measures are intended to supplement an increase in COVID-19 testing, which Ducey pointed to as an indicator that businesses can begin reopening. During the conference, Ducey said that more positive cases of COVID-19 will be announced as more people are tested. 

ADHS Director Cara Christ added that the state plans to test all long-term care facility residents and staff because of an adequate supply of tests. 

But some Arizona Republicans think that Ducey's plans to reopen businesses in phases aren't enough. 

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, said in a Tweet that she would like to work with Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, to terminate the stay-at-home order and allow businesses to reopen sooner rather than later. 

Meanwhile, public health experts have asserted that a second wave of the virus could appear in the fall. 

"I'm almost certain it will come back, because the virus is so transmissible and it's globally spread," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an Economic Club of Washington webinar earlier this week, according to CNN. 

But when asked about that possibility, Ducey said that he "wouldn't be making the decisions I'm making today if they weren't informed by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)." 

"We're going to do whatever we need to do to protect the people of Arizona, but today these are steps in the right direction," Ducey said at the conference.

Currently, 85,253 Arizonans have been tested for coronavirus. There are 8,919 active cases in the state and 362 deaths, according to ADHS. 

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