TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The line to get in the restaurant wrapped around the corner. Customers ate and drank in plain view from the street as if it were a normal Friday night in "college town" Tempe.

But this was not a normal Friday night. It was a Monday night, the first night that restaurants could reopen for dine-in service across Arizona. And although the patrons appeared to be violating social-distancing best practices, Tempe police issued no citations to the customers or the restaurant.

Such has been the case when it comes to people gathering over the past six weeks. Arizona's Family has received emails and phone calls from people reporting parties and large gatherings, and say police say they cannot enforce the Governor's executive order on social distancing.

Social distancing executive order likely not enforceable

Asked who was enforcing the social distancing executive order during a news conference on Tuesday, Governor Doug Ducey did not specifically answer the question.

"I am grateful to them (Tempe police) that they have taken the posture and a lighter touch of educating and communicating with people," said Ducey.

CBS 5 Investigates analyzed calls for service to Phoenix police during the month of April. Officers responded to 224 "Loud Party" calls. They issued just four citations.

"We will continue to respond to calls for service related to the Executive Order. Our goal is to approach each contact with education as changes continue to occur, and we as a community return to normal," wrote Sgt. Mercedes Fortune, from the Phoenix Police Department, in response to questions from CBS 5 Investigates.

According to one prominent Phoenix-area defense attorney, the police may not have a choice because when it comes to the social distancing portion of the Governor's executive orders, the language may be too vague to be legally enforceable.

"When people are expected to comply with laws, the laws need to be definite and certain," said Jason Lamm.

"Respectfully, the governor's order, as applied to individuals, is more of a suggestion or recommendation that's subject to interpretation," said Lamm.

But Lamm said it is a different story with regard to businesses. The state regulates many types of businesses, so there are more avenues to enforce sanctions against companies that do not comply with the executive orders.

Late Tuesday, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell issued a proclamation that reads, "Businesses that file security plans with the city – including bars that serve food and establishments that provide live entertainment – must document how they are ensuring physical distancing."

It is an effort to ensure businesses abide by Governor Ducey's business guidelines.

Tempe's proclamation states that any violation of the Governor's order or of Tempe's proclamation would be treated as a class one misdemeanor.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
 
 

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