Mask requirements now up to cities and counties, businesses must implement distancing plans

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PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey reversed course Wednesday, acknowledging that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Arizona.

Ducey stopped short of a statewide mandate of face coverings in public, opting for a regional approach.

“We’re going to empower local officials to provide additional requirements necessary for their geography, and this gives us the ability to target hot spots,” Ducey said in Wednesday’s press conference.

Danny Smith, Graham County supervisor for Dist. 1, said he expects the Board of Supervisors to “make that decision collectively.”

“At this point, I expect that the Graham County Health Department will strongly recommend that you wear a mask in public, especially if you are in a higher risk category, or you think there’s a chance that you will not be able to maintain your distance in your daily activity,” Smith told Gila Valley Central. “We can adjust at any time. We also have the lowest per capita number of cases in Arizona in Graham and Greenlee counties. We, of course, do want to keep it that way.”

Safford Mayor Jason Kouts told Gila Valley Central he has reached out to City Manager John Cassella and the Graham County Health Department to formulate the strategy best suited to the community and, once in place, an official statement will be released.

Ducey’s other major announcement during Wednesday’s press conference was that businesses must establish and implement distancing and disinfecting protocols, with a mandate that businesses must protect the health of employees and customers.

“Serious changes are needed to be made, and there will be enforcement around those changes. So I encourage all business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs to review that guidance,” Ducey said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, 2020, to include a statement from Safford Mayor Jason Kouts.