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Mar 8, 2021 -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted capacity restrictions on Friday for gyms, restaurants and several other types of businesses, according to The Associated Press.

Ducey cited lower COVID-19 cases and higher vaccinations as a reason to remove the capacity limits. However, mask mandates will stay in place.

“Today’s announcement is a measured approach; we are not in the clear yet,” he said in a statement.

The executive order lifts capacity limits for gyms, restaurants, theaters, water parks, bowling alleys, and bars that provide dine-in services. Before Friday, gyms had been limited to 25% capacity, and restaurants and theaters were limited to 50% capacity.

Although the limits have been lifted, customers will need to wear masks while not eating and maintain social distancing between parties.

“We need to continue practicing personal responsibility,” Ducey said. “Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay home when you’re sick and wash your hands frequently.”

The move to lift restrictions was met with opposition from big hospital chains in Arizona, the AP reported, including Banner, Dignity, HonorHealth, Tenet, and Northern Arizona Healthcare.

“Now is not the time to relax our mitigation efforts; we must stay the course to ensure that our vaccination efforts can outpace the spread of the virus,” the Health System Alliance of Arizona told the AP in a statement.

Arizona has reported more than 823,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 16,200 deaths during the pandemic, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. On Friday, the state reported 2,276 new cases and 84 deaths.

Arizona has administered COVID-19 vaccines to 1.3 million people, including 711,000 who have received two doses, the department reported Friday. The state passed the 2-million mark for doses administered on Friday morning.

“This is certainly a milestone, but there is plenty of work ahead and millions more Arizonans in need of vaccination,” Cara Christ, MD, the department’s director, said in a statement.

“Getting vaccine to all Arizonans who want to be vaccinated is an all-hands-on-deck effort,” she said. “Our goal is removing barriers as soon as we identify them and taking advantage of every opportunity to do things better.”

Show Sources

Associated Press, “Arizona governor lifts capacity limits at gyms, restaurants.”

Office of the Governor Doug Ducey, “Governor Ducey Announces Next Phase of Business and Safety Protocols.”

Arizona Department of Health Services, “Data Dashboard.”

Arizona Department of Health Services, “Arizona passes 2 million mark for COVID-19 vaccine doses administered.’

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