Arizona Cities Shut Down Bars Despite State Allowing Them to Stay Open

By Jessica Swarner

March 17, 2020

While state officials continue to allow social gathering spaces to stay open, Arizona cities have been taking action. 


The mayors of Phoenix and Tucson made a joint announcement Tuesday afternoon ordering bars in their cities to shut down by 8 p.m. They are also having restaurants stop dine-in services and move to takeout and delivery. 

Mayor Regina Romero of Tucson said gyms in her city will also be closed. 

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said she and Romero came to the decision after speaking to health officials. 

“What they’ve told me is that right now we are preparing to treat people in tents because we don’t have enough beds, that we expect doctors to have to make heart-breaking decisions about who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t,” Gallego said in a video. “They’ve said that by declaring an emergency we at the city of Phoenix can help them save lives.” 

It is unclear if the closures will be extended to other types of businesses, like event venues and recreational facilities.

Original Story

Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans issued a proclamation Monday night closing nonessential gathering spaces, including movie theater, bars, gyms, libraries, and more. Places that serve food are no longer allowed to do so on the premises and have been encouraged to instead offer takeout or delivery.

The restrictions go into effect Tuesday at 8 p.m. and are expected to stay in place until at least April 2. 

Here is the full list of closures: 

• Bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other similar businesses and establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.

• Theaters, cinemas, and indoor and outdoor performance venues.

• Libraries and museums.

• Gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, yoga and barre studios, and other similar facilities.

• Bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, skating rinks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities. 

These establishments are permitted to remain open: 

• Grocery stores, markets, convenience stores and other similar businesses and establishments that offer food and beverage not for on-premises consumption.

• Pharmacies and drug stores. 

• Food banks and food pantries.

• Cafeterias, commissaries, and restaurants located within healthcare facilities, nursing homes, shelters, group homes, places of worship, or similar facilities.

• Cafeterias, commissaries, and restaurants located within or on the premises of institutions of higher learning.

• Vendors and concessionaires located within the Flagstaff Pullium Airport.

While these restrictions are in place, the city will also suspend its downtown paid parking program. 

It’s possible other cities could follow in Flagstaff’s footsteps.

Annie DeGraw, spokeswoman for Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, told The Copper Courier the city is “considering all options right now” and will continue to provide updates.

The Copper Courier reached out to Tucson officials to see if any plans are in the works but did not receive an immediate reply. 

Despite other states shutting down nonessential businesses and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema calling on Arizona to do the same, Gov. Doug Ducey has so far chosen not to do so. 

At a press conference Monday, he and other officials gave updates on testing, the Presidential Preference Election, and school closures but said businesses would remain open. However, he encouraged Arizonans not to go out to large gatherings for St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday. 

How Businesses Are Adapting

Some businesses have taken it upon themselves to suspend or adjust operations in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Scottsdale-based Harkins Theatres announced plans to close for at least weeks, while AMC says it plans to keep theaters closed until “[federal, state, and local] guidelines allow.” Alamo Drafthouse, which has three locations in the Valley, said its locations are closed on “indefinite hiatus.” 

Other spots that have closed down for the time being include Medieval Times in Scottsdale, Cobra Arcade Bar in downtown Phoenix, The Rebel Lounge in midtown Phoenix, and all Bath and Body Works stores. 

Some restaurants have also chosen to close their dining rooms and switch to to-go orders, including Chick-fil-A, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, MOD Pizza, Pei Wei, Salad and Go, Starbucks, and Zoes Kitchen.   

Some grocery stores are adjusting hours to try to help seniors, who are at higher risk for the coronavirus. Starting Tuesday, Dollar General is dedicating the first hour it is open each day to elderly shoppers in an effort to allow them to shop in a less crowded space. And starting this week, Bashas’, Food City and AJ’s Fine Foods locations will open 5-6 a.m. on Wednesdays exclusively for shoppers ages 65 and older, according to Fox 10.


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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