Flagstaff mayor closes salons, says complaint unmerited

GLENDALE, AZ (AP) — The mayor of Flagstaff says 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 Friday 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 could.

“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 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.

“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.

🔗 Continuing coverage of coronavirus crisis

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 COVID-19 in Coconino County at that time and now there are more than 50, 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.”

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero on Friday stopped short of her Flagstaff counterpart’s action by instead issuing a proclamation that only strongly advised, but did not order, certain types of businesses deemed essential by Ducey to close.

“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,” Romero said in a statement.

Romero said those that should close include hair and nail salons, spas, barber shops and other “personal hygiene services.”

The state has tallied at least 773 cases and 15 deaths as of Saturday, up by 108 cases and two deaths since Friday. However, officials say many coronavirus cases aren’t reported due to lack of testing and other circumstances.

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.

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Associated Press writer Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report.

 

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