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Arizona businesses won’t have to enforce mask mandates

April 10, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona businesses will be free to ignore mask mandates meant to contain the spread of diseases like COVID-19 under legislation signed Friday by Gov. Doug Ducey.

The bill’s advocates said business owners should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to require their customers to follow public health orders issued by cities and counties.

Critics said the legislation would make it harder to contain the spread of diseases. The measure passed the House and Senate on party-line votes, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

Ducey said he signed the bill after securing a commitment from its sponsor, Republican Rep. Joseph Chaplik, that he’ll push through a new bill making clear that the state can enforce longstanding workplace safety and infection control standards unrelated to COVID-19.

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“With his commitment to fix this oversight, I am signing this bill, ensuring that our small businesses will no longer be required to enforce mandates imposed on them by their cities who are choosing not to enforce it themselves,” Ducey wrote in a signing statement explaining his decision.

Since the pandemic began, Ducey has resisted pressure from Democrats and public health advocates to impose a statewide mask mandate, but after a massive spike in cases, he allowed local governments to set their own requirements. He has repeatedly said that the mayors pushing for mask mandates aren’t enforcing their own.

Mayors say the mere presence of a mandate is enough to get most people to comply without the need to write tickets.

Ducey issued an executive order last month banning local mask mandates, but several jurisdictions run by Democrats have refused to rescind their mask orders. Those include Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Tempe.