/ Modified may 4, 2020 12:18 p.m.

Easing COVID-19 restrictions, Cochise County impact, workplace safety

Also, Arizona 360 revisits its commentary series Own Words.

Arizonans learned this week that the state’s stay at home order will remain in place through May 15. But Governor Doug Ducey also modified his order and gave retailers the option to gradually reopen beginning May 4. The governor’s plan to restart the economy in phases received praise from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry which chamber president Glenn Hamer discussed with Lorraine Rivera.

“We really appreciate that the governor has been data driven and his first priority has been to protect the health of Arizonans,” Hamer said. “There’s unfortunately incredible pain out there, we recognize that. But what we don’t want to see is we go faster than is prudent and we take two steps forward and 10 steps backward.”

Arizona joins several states across the country in taking steps to ease stay at home orders. We checked in with Hank Stephenson, editor of the Yellow Sheet Report, for analysis on the state’s plan including how state lawmakers figure into the mix.

“They’ve been in recess for weeks now. They’re getting a little stir crazy. Some of them definitely want to come back,” Stephenson said. “I think this is probably the biggest portion of lawmakers want to come back and maybe do some very limited legislation related to coronavirus.”

Stephenson also discussed reports that President Trump plans to travel to Arizona next week.

“He may be coming to visit Honeywell which has been producing N95 medical face masks at a high rate,” Stephenson said. “But the very idea of Trump coming here I think kind of emboldens some of his supporters who have been calling for lifting the restrictions on the economy.”

Outside of Arizona’s major metropolitan areas, rural communities are also grappling with economic setbacks that stem from the pandemic. Tony Paniagua traveled to Cochise County to learn how businesses and government leaders are coping.

As some retailers prepare to welcome back employees and other businesses are expected to follow suit soon, it raises questions about employers’ legal obligations when it comes to preventing a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace. Labor attorney Barney Holtzman explained the requirements, as well as what options employees have if they don’t feel safe returning to work.

In a return to our occasional series Own Words, this week we spoke to local business owners and a church leader about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their livelihoods. Our respondents include Victory Worship Center executive pastor Waylon Sears, Flying Leap Vineyards owner Mark Beres and English Salon Spa owner Ricky English.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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