Gov. Doug Ducey’s job of reducing the spread of the coronavirus didn’t get any easier last week when the Arizona Attorney General’s office made headlines with a legal brief supporting bar owners who want to reopen.

Bar owners have filed a lawsuit to reverse a June 29 order issued by Ducey that closed establishments holding Series 6 and Series 7 liquor licenses. These are mostly taverns that don’t serve food.

Other businesses were also impacted by the order, including gyms, theaters and water parks, but most of these have subsequently reopened as the number of covid-19 cases in Arizona has steadily declined.

Bars are being held to a different standard. State health officials and Ducey believe the nature of these businesses encourage people to congregate and consume alcohol. The outcome of that mixture, they fear, will result in people failing to abide by the protocols required to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Health concerns are apparently a secondary issue for the Attorney General’s office which pointed to the ongoing use of executive orders from Ducey.

“Nearly six months into the declared emergency, it is long past time for the Governor to follow the constitution and convene the Legislature rather than contravene lawful statutes through executive fiat,” the brief filed by the Attorney General’s office states.

Unfortunately, pandemics don’t abide by calendars.

We have no doubt that the owners of bars, theaters, fitness centers, restaurants and water parks have born the brunt of the economic hardship created by this pandemic. Recognition of the impact on these businesses was one reason Congress moved to provide financial relief programs, including the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and other initiatives.

Even with that help, we have no doubt that bar owners have sustained business-threatening losses to their bottom line and we’re confident many would like to join the ranks of other businesses that have reopened.

Effectively managing a pandemic, however, requires exactly the type of leadership that Gov. Ducey has accomplished. The continuing decline in coronavirus cases is evidence of the success of his handling of this crisis. While July saw an average increase of 3,075 new cases a day, Arizona averaged just 877 new cases a day in August and through the first five days of September the daily average was 736.

— Sierra Vista Herald

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