The state’s mostly reopened for business and people are flocking to summer getaways in Rim Country and the White Mountains.
However, on the whole people are leery about returning to restaurants and resuming normal life, according to a pair of recent polls.
Gov. Doug Ducey recently started a phased reopening, beginning with “non-essential” businesses, including restaurants, bars that serve food, barber shops, hair salons and others. The Forest Service began reopening closed recreational facilities.
The reopening order limits gatherings to 10 people. If cases don’t surge in the next two weeks, the state’s order will allow groups of 50.
So far, the remaining restrictions aren’t being enforced — except by the reluctance of people to go into businesses that don’t enforce social distancing.
Media accounts showed long lines of people waiting to get into jam-packed bars in Tempe, since the order allowed bars that serve food to open.
Rim Country and the White Mountains were both busy over the weekend, with crowds of Valley residents fleeing “excessive heat” warnings.
Most of the shops reopened. Some had signs out front asking people to wear masks — but many didn’t. Inside thrift stores, most people wore masks. But in Home Depot only a handful bothered.
Polls show mixed views on the speed with which Arizona’s moving to reopen, following the lead of about two-thirds of the states.
About 52% of residents think the state’s opening too soon, with 32% saying the reopening is going too slow, according to OH Predictive Insight’s poll of 600 likely Arizona general election voters.
“While the government has given the green light to reopen businesses, a majority of Arizona voters are idling at a flashing red light, said Mike Noble.
People in rural counties were more supportive of reopening, with only 42% saying the reopening was too quick.
The poll revealed a dramatic difference in views based on political party, reflecting a growing national divide.
Statewide, 82% of Democrats and 66% of Independents said they fear the state’s reopening too quickly. However, only 42% of Republicans said they were concerned about reopening too fast.
Consumer fears could affect businesses that do reopen.
A poll by ASU’s Morrison Institute found only 20% of Arizona residents say they’re ready to get back to the gym or movie theater. About 35% said they would return to normal activities soon and another 29% said it could take months for them to feel comfortable. About 16% said they weren’t sure.
About 26% said they felt comfortable returning to work immediately, but only 12% said the same about sporting events and 16% about sending their kids to school.
The poll results underscore the advice of business experts, like Show Low’s Economic Development Director Steve North. He said businesses must make customers feel safe to woo them back into the store.
“It’s going to depend on whether people are comfortable getting out or not. That’s one of the other things that we’ve been encouraging our businesses to make sure they’re implementing all the safety measures necessary so the customers feel safe coming in – or at least how quickly they start coming back in. If customers feel businesses are taking it seriously and keeping them safe, they’re going to be more likely to come back in.”