Tucson Mayor Romero advises residents to stay home, orders nonessential business to close

Tucson Mayor-elect Regina Romero.
Tucson Mayor-elect Regina Romero.(Regina Romero)
Updated: Mar. 27, 2020 at 6:27 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson Mayor Regina Romero has issued a new order, advising residents to stay at home when possible and nonessential businesses to close by Saturday morning.

Romero’s declaration stops short of ordering residents to shelter-in-place.

“I want to make sure that I am taking the next possible step I have within my power and to respect the governor’s executive order," Mayor Romero said during a telephone call with members of the press Friday night.

She said she “strongly advises all persons in Tucson to stay at home except as may be needed to address essential needs -- like getting food and prescriptions, traveling to work if employed in an essential function, and getting some exercise and fresh air.”

“I did not want to walk into the weekend without making it clear to our community that we must be more aggressive with the non-essentials and with staying at home," said Romero.

She also strongly urged hair and nail salons, spas, barbershops to also close, despite the fact they are considered essential under Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s order.

A list of businesses considered essential by Gov. Ducey’s order can be found below, but it includes health care facilities, construction operations, social services, gas stations, banks, grocery stores and daycare centers.

When asked if she would get to a point to issue a ‘shelter-in-place’ for the city if Gov. Ducey does not for the state, she said she wants to respect his decisions.

“I don’t want to make it into a political stand. I want to do as much as I possibly can for the benefit and public health for Tucsonans," Romero said. Later in the call she added, “right now is not the time to get into the legal fight with the governor or the state legislature. It’s time to act as best as I possibly can to do what’s best for Tucson.”

Romero’s order includes the closure of every business and establishment that is not defined as “essential” by the Governor’s Order to close by 8 a.m. Saturday, March 28 and remain closed through at least Friday, April 17.

The city’s enforcement approach will be to first educate businesses or talk with owners to determine if they are essential. The Tucson Police Department would then be advised to issue a notice before a citation if the business continues to operate.

“As a community, we need to do the right thing,” said City Attorney Mike Rankin. "We need to be a community deciding what’s the right thing to do here... the right thing to do here is to try to stop the spread of this virus.”

Rankin said owners could be charged with a class one misdemeanor.

“We’re hopeful we’re not going to have to cite anybody and we’ll let that play out as it does," said Rankin. "We want to make sure the time and resources of our public safety and first responders is available for other things as advised to issuing misdemeanor citations to businesses who may not want to close.”

To Mayor Romero’s knowledge, no citations have been issued for businesses or restaurants since last week’s local emergency declaration that ordered the suspension of dine-in services and closures of bars, gyms, entertainment venues and more.

  • Health care and public health operations, including hospitals, public health entities, distributors of personal protective equipment and biotechnology companies;
  • Human services operations, including those that provide services for the elderly, those with developmental disabilities, foster and adoption children and the homeless;
  • Infrastructure operations, including food production, utility operators, construction and internet providers;
  • Government functions, including first responders, emergency management personnel, 911 operators, child protection staff, welfare providers and more;
  • Business operations, including grocery and medicine providers, outdoor recreation;
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services, including religious and secular non-profit organizations and food banks;
  • Media organizations, including newspaper, television, radio and other media services;
  • Gas stations and other transportation-related businesses;
  • Financial institutions, including banks and credit unions;
  • Hardware and supply stores;
  • Critical trades, including plumbers, electricians, cleaning, sanitation, HVAC and security staff;
  • Mail, post, shipping and logistics;
  • Education institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, universities and research entities;
  • Laundry services;
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises;
  • Supplies distributors that enable telework and work from home and those that supply essential businesses;
  • Transportation, including airlines, taxis, and ride-sharing;
  • Home-based and care services, including for seniors and those with developmental disabilities;
  • Residential facilities and shelters, including those for children, seniors or at-risk populations;
  • Professional services, including legal, real estate and accounting services;
  • Day care centers for employees exempted though the order;
  • Manufacturers, distribution and producers of supply chain-critical products;
  • Hotels and motels;
  • And funeral services.

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