Published at 8:30 p.m.
Earlier this evening, Gov. Doug Ducey announced additional mitigation strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona. Here’s a rundown on the executive actions:
- The governor is activating the National Guard to assist grocery stores and food banks with high demand.
- The governor issued an executive order to require restaurants in Arizona counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases to provide dine-out options only, and that all bars in those counties close. This also applies to movie theaters and gyms. It is effective close of business tomorrow (Friday, March 20). To assist in mitigating the financial consequences of restaurant closures, the executive order also allows restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages with the purchase of food.
- Additionally, the Governor’s directive allows manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to buy back unopened products from restaurants, bars and clubs.
- An executive order was also issued halting all elective surgeries in the state of Arizona to free up medical resources and maintain the capacity for hospitals and providers to continue offering vital services.
- Additionally, the governor delayed expiration dates on Arizona driver’s licenses to ensure residents over the age of 65 do not need to visit MVD offices for renewal.
It remains unclear how long these executive orders will be in effect. Currently, they apply to six Arizona counties: Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Navajo, Coconino and Graham.
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Just over an hour ago, the Senate passed a budget that includes a $50M aid package for COVID-19 response, including assistance for people struggling to pay rent/mortgage, support for food banks and homeless shelters and help for small businesses with under 50 employees. In addition to the $50M aid package, which was added today as part of a deal struck between Republican and Democratic leadership in the Senate, the bare-bones spending plan essentially reflects the FY 2020 budget, with adjustments for inflation.
The budget has been transmitted to the House, where members were actively debating the proposal until 8 p.m. before abruptly adjourning. While there appeared to be a glimmer of hope for the 31 votes needed to send it up to the governor’s desk, the chamber adjourned until Monday at 10 a.m. (translation: they still don’t have a deal).
Once the “skinny budget” is adopted, the Legislature is expected to recess for three weeks to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus, although that plan remains entirely speculative. Keep an eye out for another special edition of The Navigator on Monday.