Arizona and West Virginia joined the growing list of states that this week have drawn up plans to roll back coronavirus restrictions, encouraged by the decline in Covid-19 cases and the increase in vaccinations.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced on Friday that the state is lifting capacity restrictions on restaurants, gyms, dining-service bars, and other businesses. Protocols for masks and social distances remain in effect.
“Like the rest of the country, Arizona has found its way out of the winter wave of fallen. And we are leading the nation in rolling out vaccinations, ”said Ducey.
In West Virginia, businesses such as restaurants, bars and shops can run at full capacity, said Governor Jim Justice.
The moves follow similar actions by US governors this week. Texas and Mississippi are ending mask mandates and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity, while Alabama publicly expires the facial cover order next month.
Those plans were criticized by some Democrats who felt the rollbacks were going too far. President Joe Biden called the Texas and Mississippi decisions “Neanderthal thinking.”
Justice also expressed concern about the withdrawal of mask mandates, telling CNN he did not know “what the rush” was to lift those rules. “We are not withdrawing from our mask mandate at the moment,” he said on Friday.
Michigan and Connecticut, led by Democrats, also started reopening their states’ economies this week, but to a lesser extent. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said Thursday that the northeastern state will be running restaurants and other businesses at full capacity starting later this month. Michigan announced changes, including an increase in dining and shopping capacity and the resumption of small indoor gatherings.
Ducey called the Arizona reopening plan a “measured approach,” adding that the state is “not yet clear.”
“We always knew that fighting this virus would depend on the personal responsibility of everyday Arizonans,” said Ducey.
His order also allowed for spring training of Major League Baseball and other professional sports to be conducted should their plans for safety protocols be approved by the state health department.