Phoenix watches local mask mandate slip away as other cities fight governor’s order

By Jen Fifield | Arizona Republic

It didn’t take long after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey stripped cities of their ability to enforce their local mask mandates last week for Tucson Mayor Regina Romero to speak up.

Romero announced the city was still going to enforce its mandate anyway. Flagstaff and Pima County followed, saying they are still requiring masks in public, too.

Noticeably missing, though, was Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

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Gallego has banded with Flagstaff and Tucson mayors in her COVID-19 response throughout the pandemic and has been particularly critical over Ducey’s decision not to implement a statewide mask mandate.

Gallego issued a short statement Thursday, saying Ducey’s order “directly contradicts the best scientists in the field,” but it didn’t say anything about Phoenix’s mask mandate.

The lack of immediate response could signal that Gallego received legal advice that the city couldn’t keep its mandate in place. It also could signal that she didn’t feel she had the votes on the council to make it happen after a rancorous battle with the rest of the City Council at the start of the pandemic left her without the power to make emergency decisions on her own. 

It could just be that the city is taking its time in deciding how to react. Gallego told The Arizona Republic last week that she was talking to city staff about whether to challenge the executive order.

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