PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Less than 24 hours after a group of Arizona mayors urged Gov. Doug Ducey to whittle down his list of essential services, Ducey answered the call by ordering the closure of salons and barbershops. Communities across the state have been grappling with closures and restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In an April 2 letter signed by nine mayors, including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, leaders asked Ducey to reconsider salons and golf courses as essential services. In the letter, the mayors argued personal hygiene services “such as beauty salons or manicurists” do not fit some federal classifications of essential services. The letter goes on to say, “we believe that keeping social locations open, such as golf course clubhouses and barbershops, sends a signal that this virus is not as serious as it truly is.”

surgeon general

Carmona says the more we learn about the novel coronavirus, the more leaders will know how to respond.

On Friday afternoon, the governor issued new guidance on the matter, ordering salons and barbershops to close by 5 p.m. Saturday. Mayor Gallego applauded the move on Twitter, saying it was “the right move to keep AZ safe.”

“This is an evolving challenge. It changes all the time based on the number of people infected, based on if you’re in a rural area versus an urban area,” says Dr. Richard Carmona, the former U.S. Surgeon General.

Carmona says the more we learn about the novel coronavirus, the more leaders will know how to respond.

“There’s a fine balance here,” says Carmona. “You can’t just shut down our economy every time we have an emergency like this.”

Carmona pointed to stories around the country where business owners are getting creative to stay in operation during the pandemic. He says one-on-one service between healthy individuals can be safely managed and outside activities can take place with social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“If I have two people on a golf course and they’re keeping their social distance and they’re doing their 18 holes, that’s actually good,” says Carmona. “We don’t want people to stay in a bubble and be stressed.”

Dr. Richard Carmona

Dr. Richard Carmona was the surgeon general from 2002 to 2006.

Carmona will meet with the Phoenix mayor and council next week. He says he has been asked to answer questions as city leaders look for ways to keep residents healthy during the pandemic.

Carmona says preventing coronavirus spread isn’t about essential or non-essential services. He says it’s about changing our ways to avoid gatherings.

“It’s thinking out of the box with the idea being, ‘How can I move people away from these large clusters of people that we’re used to dealing with?’" says Carmona.


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