TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Gov. Doug Ducey issued a statewide stay-at-home order that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 31 until April 30, 2020.
The order still allows essential businesses to remain open.
Essential businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, landscaping, hardware stores among others.
Residents are allowed to leave your house for what the state considers essential services, like going to the market or picking up a prescription.
Parks are also open at this time, and the governor encouraged people to get outside while maintaining a safe distance from others.
Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus issued a memo saying the department is ready to enforce social distancing using state statutes, the red tag ordinance, or possibly new ordinances.
Magnus said he wants to make one thing clear, the stay-at-home order means no house parties or large gatherings.
Officers will give warnings and talk to people who may not realize they are breaking the order. However, if the actions are repeated or the order is knowingly ignored, police cab charge people with a misdemeanor, which involves up to six months in jail and a fine.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said his department will be taking an educational approach, as instructed by the governor, in community policing.
“This is a very complicated situation that none of us could’ve imagined a mere few months ago. We didn’t even know the term social distancing just a mere two months ago,” Napier said. “Nothing in these executive orders mandate that you remain in your home at all times or otherwise risk arrest. That’s never been the intent of these orders.”
Napier said the governor’s intent of the order is not to see how many people a department can arrest. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department sees an arrest or citation as a last resort, according to the sheriff.
“Egregious violations and people thumbing their nose at these conditions of what is not permissible, we will deal with and unfortunately that may result in the arrest of some people, but that will be because of their actions, not our desire to be overzealous in enforcement," Napier said.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and City Attorney Mike Rankin said they expect the enforcement to be in education, notification and then citation if necessary.
Individuals who knowingly fail or refuse to obey a lawful order under the emergency management laws may be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Arizona Attorney General Mark Bronvich issued an opinion on the enforcement Tuesday:
“The opinion concludes that while individuals who knowingly fail or refuse to obey a lawful order under the emergency management laws may be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, law enforcement agencies must take care to maintain constitutional safeguards that exist to protect individual rights and fundamental liberties.”
“I do not want to diminish for one moment the importance of these executive orders and the critical nature of the public health emergency that we face,” Napier said.