Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announced today that the city is declaring a state of emergency. At 8 p.m. tonight, bars will be forced to close and restaurants must switch to delivery, take-out, or drive-thru only.
Based on input from healthcare professionals, business leaders,& community members, PHX is declaring a state of emergency forcing immediate closure of bars & moving restaurants to delivery/take-out/drive-thru only starting 8PM tonight. @cityoftucson joins us in this. #COVID19— Mayor Kate Gallego (@MayorGallego) March 17, 2020
With 1.6 million people, Phoenix is the largest city in Arizona and the fifth most populous city in the country.
Annie DeGraw, a spokesperson for Gallego, said that the declaration affecting restaurants and bars will go into effect tonight but other details of the state of emergency need to be ratified by the Council tomorrow. The declaration will likely be broader, DeGraw said, and will include restrictions on other public gatherings.
Right now, there is no end date attached to the declaration, since it's difficult to predict how long the COVID-19 outbreak in the state will last or how severe it will be. DeGraw said there have been many discussions about how to help keep businesses afloat during this time and it is a priority for the mayor.
Declaring a State of Emergency in @CityofPhoenixAZ wasn’t made lightly. However, our medical professionals need all the help they can get & closing bars and moving restaurants to take-out/delivery/drive-thru helps #StopTheSpread. The health of our community comes first. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/3fudErodYQ— Mayor Kate Gallego (@MayorGallego) March 17, 2020
"We understand that this is incredibly difficult for our small businesses and the workforce that will be impacted by this," Gallego said in a video posted on Twitter. "I made this decision after discussing it with leaders of business community groups, our hospitals, and health care associations."
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"What they've told me, is that right now, they are preparing to treat people in tents because we don't have enough beds," Gallego said. "That we expect doctors to have to make heartbreaking decisions about who gets a ventilator and who doesn't. They said that by declaring an emergency, we at the City of Phoenix can help them save lives."
Tucson is also closing bars and restaurants. Mayor Regina Romero also announced on Twitter that all restaurants, bars, food courts, gyms, and other venues where groups of people congregate will shut down at 8 p.m. tonight. Tucson is the second-biggest city in Arizona, with nearly 1 million residents.
My full statement regarding the declaration of a local emergency. RESTAURANTS ARE NOT ORDERED CLOSED. Dine in services at restaurants will be suspended and transitioned to all takeout/delivery. pic.twitter.com/ab2CaO4Ml4— Regina Romero (@TucsonRomero) March 17, 2020
"My top priority, above all else, is to protect public health," Romero said. "This is a painful decision that I do not take lightly. Our restaurants and small businesses need clear, uniform direction, and this order provides them exactly that."