Coronavirus-hit Arizona reverses course on reopening
Arizona has abruptly reversed course on reopening its economy as coronavirus cases spike there and nationwide.
The state’s governor has ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, cinemas and water parks.
Florida and Texas have also performed U-turns on relaxing restrictions as the whole US Sun Belt region becomes a new virus epicentre.
At least 16 US states have paused or rolled back reopenings as their infection caseloads balloon.
Some jurisdictions are shutting down for the looming Independence Day weekend amid fears that packed beaches and bars could fuel new outbreaks.
Governor Doug Ducey’s directive – which will apply until at least 27 July – also prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people in Arizona.
The order came a day after the state set a single-day record for new coronavirus cases at 3,858.
“Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” Governor Ducey, a Republican, told a press briefing.
“We’re not going back to normal any time soon.”
Arizona’s stay-at-home orders were lifted in mid-May in line with criteria set by the White House, allowing businesses to reopen.
What action is being taken elsewhere?
The Republican governors of Texas and Florida slammed the brakes on reopening last Friday when they shut bars and imposed other restrictions as their virus caseloads surged to record levels.
On Monday, Kansas and Oregon joined a growing number of US states that are requiring everyone to wear masks in public.
New Jersey on Monday announced it would postpone the restart of indoor dining because people had been flouting social-distancing guidelines and not wearing masks.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where the mask-shunning President Donald Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August, on Monday announced face coverings must be worn indoors.
Los Angeles County – the most populous county in California, which has seen a significant spike in virus cases recently – banned all fireworks displays for the 4 July weekend and said it would close down beaches.
Meanwhile, New York – formerly the US epicentre of the virus – announced its lowest number of hospital admissions and deaths since the pandemic began.
“You remember at one time we had 800 deaths per day,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Today we have eight.”
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