Tempe Mayor requires some dine-in restaurants to document their re-opening procedures

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchel

Tempe businesses that file security plans with the city – including bars that serve food and establishments that provide live entertainment – must document how they are ensuring physical distancing, according to an emergency proclamation issued today by Mayor Mark Mitchell.

The city does not condone business activities that do not align with Governor Doug Ducey’s coronavirus-related Executive Orders or Mitchell’s emergency proclamations, and the city is working in good faith to communicate these orders to the public and enforce them.

Ducey’s Executive Order related to bringing back in-restaurant dining effective May 11 was issued with guidance and included physical distancing guidelines. Parties of 10 or fewer are allowed to sit together without distancing. Whole parties should be distanced from each other by at least 6 feet in any direction. Overall numbers of people allowed inside restaurants should reflect these parameters. Lines of people outside restaurants should follow physical distancing guidelines and management of the lines are the establishment’s responsibility.

On a recent evening, Tempe Police responded twice to complaints about a single downtown establishment related to concerns that it was not operating with physical distancing protocols. Following the state mandate to provide warnings before citations, the officers engaged with the manager and provided education about proper distancing protocols. Officers observed that their requests were being adhered to at the time they left the premises.

Before and apparently after police interactions that night, according to photos and videos, the establishment did not appear to be maintaining physical distancing guidelines. If Tempe Police need to respond to this facility again over similar concerns, citation is expected to follow. Any violation of the Governor’s Executive Order or the Mayor’s proclamation is a class one misdemeanor under state law.

The Governor has made it clear that establishments are subject to enforcement actions by police, which may result in jeopardizing their liquor licenses if they fail to follow his Executive Orders. Tempe expects all businesses to take the responsibility to adhere to the guidelines published by the Governor’s Office to protect their patrons and employees – even if those patrons and employees do not agree with the need for protection.

Mitchell said today he understands if people were shocked by what they saw.

“This did not meet my expectations for what it looks like to re-open safely and responsibly,” he said. “This is an opportunity to work together and educate people on what is being required of them during the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can all remain safe.”

Mitchell’s proclamation, issued today, requires businesses with security plans on file with the city to document how they are adhering to the guidance that has been issued to accompany Ducey’s order. Each business is now required to produce a copy of this information if contacted by Tempe Police related to concerns about their operations at this time.

The Downtown Tempe Authority and the city are collaborating on ideas and additional coaching for businesses. Tempe Police are continuing to work with businesses to educate them about physical distancing and the Governor’s guidelines.

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