The Tucson City Council passed an emergency curfew Friday, Dec. 4, that was supposed to end on Dec. 23. The curfew was later changed to continue until COVID-19 cases fell below 100 per 100,000 residents.
Some bars and restaurants filed a lawsuit against Pima County because of the curfew. This led to a superior court judge ruling that the Pima County curfew violates state law.
According to the court ruling, “Plaintiffs argue the County is without legal authority to impose the curfew, and that the curfew is unreasonable and unconstitutional on several grounds.”
An executive order was issued by Gov. Doug Ducey, stating that no county can make or issue any order or regulation that includes restricting people from leaving their homes due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The curfew began as a voluntary curfew but changed to a mandatory curfew on Dec. 15. Dr. Francisco Garcia, deputy pima county administrator and chief medical officer, testified that county inspectors investigated compliance with the voluntary curfew.
They found that 30% of the locations they observed were noncompliant with the curfew. The Board of Supervisors changed the curfew to mandatory after seeing the noncompliance and the rise in cases.
After the court looked at the facts of the case, they concluded on Jan. 19 that the curfew violated Ducey’s executive order and they found that the plaintiffs are entitled to relief.
Pima Supervisor Chair Sharon Bronson released the following statement after the court’s ruling:
“Pima County is obviously disappointed in Judge Kellie Johnson’s Preliminary Injunction restricting the County Health Department from enforcing a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew throughout Pima County. … In the meantime, Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia urges all businesses to continue to voluntarily adhere to the curfew and limit gatherings.”
A few days after the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, Pima County filed an appeal to reinstate the 10 p.m. curfew. The Superior Court denied Pima County’s appeal.
The plaintiff bars have extended their hours to their normal closing time.
Ducey announced on March 5 that restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, water parks and bars that serve food can open at 100% capacity. This executive order prevents mayors and local jurisdictions from issuing extreme orders that would shut down businesses*.
*Editor's Note: This article has been updated with Ducey's executive order issue regarding COVID-19 occupancy limits.
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