PHOTOS: What Reopening Looked Like In Arizona Cities This Weekend

Arizona cities reopening COVID-19

University Boulevard on day of reopening and UofA virtual graduation ceremony in Tucson (Photo by Jake Hines)

By Brandy Rae Ramirez, Jake Hines

May 18, 2020

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona have surpassed 14K and families continue to lose loved ones to the virus. With some people practicing social distancing and others not, only time will tell the impact.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases are now up to 14,170 in Arizona and 686 deaths, the state health department reported Monday. And despite warnings from experts and concerns from some local businesses on reopening too soon, Arizona continued operations this weekend after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted restrictions on the state’s stay-at-home order.

The Copper Courier visited a few places open for business in the Phoenix Valley, Tucson, and Flagstaff to see how well people followed social distancing guidelines. While some practiced safety measures with masks and social distancing, others didn’t seem fazed by the continuous threat of coronavirus spread.

RELATED: Why States Like Arizona Are Seeing a Bigger Push to Reopen Than Others

Recently, Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, told Copper Courier how Arizonans behave will determine if the state will turn into a hotspot for new cases. If guidelines aren’t followed, he said, the percentage of positive tests and number of hospitalizations in the state will go up.

So how is Arizona doing thus far, and how will behaviors affect COVID-19 cases going forward?

RELATED: This Is What Tempe, Phoenix, and Scottsdale Look Like During COVID-19 Social Distancing

Here’s what we found.

The Valley

Some retailers in the Valley are happy to be open, but business is not as usual. While many restaurants, public lakes, and rivers – including the Salt River and Saguaro Lake – had an influx of people, retail stores in the valley appeared to only see a small number of people come through their doors.

Retailers in Phoenix are ready to reopen, but how will people behave? (Photo by Jake Hines)

Some people practiced social distancing and wore masks, but many did not – despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Old Town Scottsdale bar patrons on reopening weekend. (Photo by Jake Hines)
Old Town Scottsdale bar patrons on reopening weekend. Scottsdale, Ariz. (Photo by Jake Hines)
Mill Avenue bar patrons on reopening weekend in Tempe. (Photo by Jake Hines)

As Salt River tubing resumed this weekend, Arizonans grouped together in long lines to get into the park, and piled into buses for transport. Some had masks, while others did not.

The Arizona Republic highlighted photos from opening day, and on Sunday, Saguaro Lake and the Salt River recreation areas were completely full with people parking along the main roads to try and get in. Some people left in disappointment as they were forced to turn around because the lake was at full capacity.


In Tucson, like the Valley, some streets and businesses saw little action, while others had patrons who both practiced safety and those who didn’t.

This street in Tucson was clear from traffic. (Photo by Jake Hines)

This Tiki head with its hanging mask is indicative of the COVID-19 political divide and behaviors on safety in the state and across the nation.

De-masked Tiki Head on day of reopening in Tucson (Photo by Jake Hines)
University Boulevard on day of reopening and UofA virtual graduation ceremony in Tucson (Photo by Jake Hines)
4th Avenue patrons on day of reopening in Tucson. (Photo by Jake Hines)
4th Avenue on the day of reopening in Tucson. (Photo by Jake Hines)


Flagstaff, as in the other two cities, also had social distancing measures put in place for visitors to see. And while some followed the rules, others did not.

Social distancing measures are in place, but some people are choosing not to follow them. (Photo by Jake Hines)
Old Town Flagstaff on day of Reopening (Photo by Jake Hines)
Wheeler Park on day of reopening in Flagstaff. (Photo by Jake Hines)
Wheeler Park on day of reopening. (Photo by Jake Hines)

With businesses now resuming and after this weekend, the question becomes now, how will the state and nation’s political divide on COVID-19 continue to impact cases and deaths?

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