Restaurants react to Pima County’s reopening regulations

Local restaurants react to county board’s reopening regulations

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - More revisions were made to protective measures the Pima County Board of Supervisors has put into place for some businesses.

It was a 3-2 vote to make the changes that were spurred by extensive feedback from the business community, primarily restaurants, which sought the bulk of the changes.

Many restaurant owners spoke up Thursday at the meeting, including Travis Peters of the Southern-style inspired restaurant The Parish.

“We’re all confused,” Peters said. "Some of them have been impossible to do and some of them re a little bit easier than others so It’s just been reset, re-interpret and re-navigate.”

Peters said that they want more clarity on some of the rules. For example, there’s one that states: Parties no larger than 10 allowed per table.

“If a restaurant is allowed to have parties of 10 sitting at a table it doesn’t make sense that the same 10 people can’t sit at a bar? Hopefully, I can come with my wife and not sit 6 feet apart at the bar.”

One revision is eliminating the cash penalty for those who don’t follow the county’s rules.

The rule used to read: “Third and subsequent violations of the same or a similar nature each constitutes a civil infraction, with a penalty of $500.”

It instead now reads: "Posting on the County COVID-19 website that the facility, business or location is not in compliance with the approved County standards designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19."

While those who do follow the rules will be recognized by a badge at their entrance. It’s one Travis hopes will be amended even more.

“I really hope there isn’t any public shaming if a restaurant is having struggles that they’re not publicly shamed that’s kind of one I hoped wasn’t happening," Peters said.

The revised rules go into effect immediately.

“The goal of this is to protect the public health. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Though Governor Ducey has relaxed restrictions for business operations, the County, which is charged with protecting the public health, needs to provide guidance and direction about how to get back to business safely for everyone – business owners, their employees and their patrons,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “CDC and state guidance to reopening businesses to ‘practice social distancing’ aren’t nearly specific enough to have any real, practical effect and would vary greatly from establishment to establishment based on each owner’s interpretation of that phrase. This action by the Board provides clarity, fairness and consistency.”

What Peters really wants is fairness from the board, meaning if they have to abide by the rules, all businesses should. Especially since it’s the only County in the state with these requirements.

"If restaurants are doing this because it’s a health issue—if the actual issue is a health issue to keep the public safe, let’s just have a level playing field where everybody’s doing the same thing.”

He’s hoping for unity on all fronts—in order to focus on serving food and get back to business.

“I know they’re in a hard situation and so are we and maybe we can just come together,” Peters said.

These revisions put into place Thursday could all wind up being moot if the state attorney general decides the rules aren’t legal.

So it’ll be more waiting and more uncertainty until that final decision is made.

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