City Council met for nearly four hours Wednesday evening to discuss whether to confirm Mayor Kate Gallego’s order to close all Phoenix bars and restaurants and only allow takeout, drive-thru and delivery orders.
After hours in executive session, Council voted 8-1 to continue the discussion at 12 noon on Friday.
On Tuesday, Gallego declared a state of emergency to stop the spread of the coronavirus, forcing the immediate closure of bars and moving restaurants to delivery, takeout or drive-thru only.
While Gallego’s action mirrored those taken by other mayors and governors across the country in the midst of the pandemic, members of Council appeared to not be supportive. Vice Mayor Betty Gaurdado and councilmembers Michael Nowakowski, Laura Pastor and Carlos Garcia asked for an executive session meeting to discuss the declaration.
Councilmember Sal DiCiccio, who openly opposed Gallego’s action, said state of emergency declaration went too far and gave the mayor too much power. In a Facebook post, DiCiccio said Gallego’s declaration would giver her “unlimited power to rule the city of Phoenix by proclamation for however so long she chooses, with no recourse for Council.”
While the declaration is expected to severely impact the restaurant industry and its workers, numerous business groups and medical professionals backed Gallego’s order.
“Undoubtedly, closing businesses will have severe economic impact on many hardworking people and businesses in our community. But this is an unprecedented time for all of us. Unprecedented action is the only answer,” Dr. Richer Gray, the Mayo Clinic Arizona CEO, wrote in a letter to Council.
Other pro-business groups such as the Greater Phoenix Chamber, Chicanos Por La Causa, Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Local First Arizona all showed support for Gallego’s action.
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While still being debated, Gallego’s original order will be in place until confirmed or denied by Council.
Even if the order is reversed, many Phoenix restaurants will stay closed or just do delivery and takeout.
Before Gallego’s order Tuesday, numerous local and national restaurants announced they would be closing their dining rooms and only focusing on takeout and delivery during the coronavirus outbreak.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated that Council discussion on this subject would continue on March 19. Council will pick up the discussion beginning at noon on March 20.
Author: By Brandon Brown Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal