SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The City of Scottsdale is joining other cities in Arizona by issuing a mask mandate as COVID-19 cases increase.
Mayor Jim Lane issued an emergency proclamation so people will have to cover their noses and mouths in most public areas. This excludes people or "small groups in parks for outdoor exercise when physical distancing can be maintained." It goes into effect Friday, June 19 at 5 p.m. Face coverings will be required in places like restaurants, grocery stores, gyms, public transit, etc.
There are some exceptions which includes the following:
- For children under 6 years old.
- If you fall into the CDC's guidance for those who should not wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or developmental disability.
- As part of a religious ceremony or service.
- If you are at a restaurant or similar business while eating or drinking. If a patron is not seated at their table or other designated eating area, a face covering is required.
Arizona's Family spoke to Jonathan Frutkin, principal of Radix Law in the Valley, following the Scottsdale announcement. We asked him what the big takeaways were from the Scottsdale proclamation.
"There's definitely worry about nightclubs. And so people are going to have to wear masks in nightclubs," Frutkin said. "And nightclubs are recommended that they have lower capacity. That's obviously a concern for the mayor."
Frutkin says this also includes people who go to gyms.
Mark Stanton, the president and CEO of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, fully supports the mandate. The group represents more than 1,000 businesses.
"The top priority, the No.1 priority, is public health and safety," Stanton said. "Seeing the municipalities and the City of Scottsdale, Mayor Lane and council, believe this is the right pathway -- the business community will follow suit."
Meanwhile, Scottsdale City Council member Guy Phillips thinks the mandate is not warranted and will place "undue hardship" on local businesses. He thinks a program of education and best practices is a better way of handling this.
If individuals are required to wear masks in public places, school will likely follow those guidelines, according to state educators.
"If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don't, don't," Phillips said, before the proclamation was released. "But respect each other. If you asked me to wear a mask around you, I will do that because I respect your opinion."
Read the full proclamation and list of exceptions here. In a news release, the City says "individuals will be given an opportunity to comply with the proclamation before any enforcement action is taken. Continued failure to comply with an emergency proclamation is a class one misdemeanor."
The City is also encouraging places that sell alcohol to limit occupancy to 50% for better physical distancing. In a press release, Lane said, "We can't afford another shutdown of businesses or restaurants. So we need individual to make responsible decisions for the sake of our entire community - wear your mask when out in public."
"I recognize completely the intrusive nature of this directive. I understand the resistance that many have to the loss of your personal freedom to choose how you respond and react during this health crisis. In this emergency, however, like any other, we have a civic responsibility to act and sometimes accept actions that are important for recovery. As hospitalization utilization continues to rise and trend toward threatening levels it becomes imperative to slow the contagion rate – and wearing masks is a simple step recommended by public health experts,” said Mayor Lane.
“We cannot ignore the numbers as COVID-19 cases mount. As government we are balancing the need to act for the sake of communitywide public health, while also allowing as much personal freedom as we can," he added.
Gov. Ducey just announced that local governments can implement face mask policies.
This week, Gov. Doug Ducey announced he is giving local governments the authority to set policies that would require people to wear face masks in public. Previously, hundreds of doctors in Arizona called for a statewide mandate and say there's a growing body of work that points to mask usage as one of the key ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"The bottom line is it's hard to argue with the science," said Dr. Christine Severance, a family physician who organized one of the open letters. "You can take the stance about civil rights or politics all you want, but the bottom line is the evidence shows that this disease is deadly, that it doesn't care who you are, what your political stance is, what your age is, where you live. It hits everybody."
"I mean, there are people who can’t go to funerals, people who’s family members are dying and they have to say goodbye over the phone and you’re basically flaunting it,” said Dr. Akhter.
Recent video has shown packed nightclubs in Scottsdale. A spokesperson for Riot Hospitality Group, which manages a number of places including Riot House, Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row and El Jefe, sent the following statement to Arizona's Family:
“Leading up to the reopening of our venues, we set new health and safety standards that went above and beyond what our licensing authorities require. We have already put measures in place to adopt the new guidelines.”
The proclamation will remain in place until July 22, unless further extended and "shall be periodically reviewed for possible repeal or revision throughout the time it remains in effect."