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Arizona businesses can soon opt out of local orders requiring masks under a new law.
The bill was signed into law by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday.
Ducey never instituted a statewide mandate and in March signed an executive order that said localities couldn't do so, either.
Businesses in Arizona can soon elect to opt out of any city, county, or state order requiring face masks in their establishments after Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law Friday.
Under the law, businesses can still elect to enforce mask mandates for their customers, but they can no longer be compelled to by any city, county, or even state order to do so.
"I am signing this bill, ensuring that our small businesses will no longer be required to enforce mandates imposed on them by their cities who are choosing not to enforce it themselves," Ducey, a Republican, said Friday, according to a report from Arizona Central.
While Ducey signed the bill Friday, it won't go into effect until 90 days after the Arizona legislature concludes its session. According to AZ Central, that date is different each year, meaning whether businesses will be at present be required to follow local orders isn't clear.
While Ducey's office says a March 26 executive order by the governor made it illegal for localities to enact their own mask mandates, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said later in March counties were still able to enforce mask mandates under a provision of the state's Emergency Management Code.
Brnovich, also a Republican, said the code's provision allowing counties to "investigate all nuisances, source of filth and causes of sickness and make regulations necessary for the public health and safety of the inhabitants" supersedes executive orders by the state governor.
According to KAWC, a spokesperson for Ducey said the attorney general's informal legal opinion on the local public health measures was "inconsequential" because local governments were unable to effectively enforce their mask mandates even when they were "most necessary" earlier during the pandemic.
Ducey never issued a statewide mask order during the pandemic, even though public health experts stressed - and continue to stress - their effectiveness in stemming the spread of COVID-19.
"Our largest cities opted not to enforce their mandates, leaving the responsibility up to local businesses," Ducey said Friday. "I understand the concern and heartache this caused for many of these businesses."
According to AZ Central, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Pima County in the state continue to require face masks in public areas.
Ducey signed the bill into law even though he acknowledged the bill's language could inadvertently pose challenges for the enforcement of laws that require the wearing of masks in situations unrelated to COVID-19, like when workers handle harmful materials, according to the report.
"Some rational mask requirements that are not related to the spread of COVID-19 may not be enforceable," the governor said. "The state needs to be able to enforce long-standing workplace safety and infection control standards unrelated to COVID-19."
The state representative who authored the bill said he would amend the legislation's language before the end of the current session to fix that portion, the AZ Central reported.
Read the original article on Business Insider