Update: Tempe Mayor Issues Proclamation Closing Bars and In-Store Dining

Tempe City Hall
Tempe City Hall
Update: On Thursday, March 19, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell issued a proclamation ordering the closure of "bars, in-restaurant dining, and recreational and entertainment venues effective 8 p.m. tonight, March 19, as well as the closure of Tempe gyms and workout studios as of 1 p.m. today, March 19."

Mitchell planned to release a video explaining his decision on Tuesday afternoon. Nikki Ripley, city spokesperson, said the closures order doesn't need to be ratified by the city council.

Ripley said that under Section 1.04 of the city's charter, it would be a "misdemeanor to defy a proclamation."

Although leaving one's home for a walk, jog, or bike ride for exercise does not fall under the proclamation, according to Ripley, "the city’s stance presently is not that you should not leave your home for walks, etc." In other words, getting outside the home a little is okay.

Original March 18 story follows:

The Tempe City Council on Wednesday approved a state of emergency, granting Mayor Mark Mitchell extraordinary powers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The emergency declaration gives Mitchell the authority to "issue proclamations to preserve health and peace during this emergency." That could include measures like imposing curfews, ordering businesses to close, and calling on outside law enforcement agencies to aid Tempe.

But unlike his contemporaries in Tucson and Phoenix, Mitchell did not take the step of ordering restaurants to close their dining rooms and shift to dine-in or takeout business models. The Tempe mayor cited state guidelines for his decision.

"However, per the current guidelines issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services, I am highly encouraging residents to avoid dining in any establishments at this time," Mitchell added. "I would also advise that you stay home as much as possible and try to physically distance yourself from others if you do have to go out."

As of Wednesday, there were 27 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Arizona.

Soon after Tempe's declaration, Scottsdale Mayor W.J. "Jim" Lane issued a declaration of emergency that also doesn't include closing bars or restaurants, for now.

“The city is taking every appropriate action to check the spread of this virus, and we need each citizen to do their part as well – practice social distancing, avoid gatherings, and stay away from others when you are sick," Lane said in a statement. "We may have a difficult road ahead, but I am confident that the actions we have taken to date are helping, and we are poised and ready to take any additional steps that may be needed.”
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh