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Pima County extends COVID-19 business closures to April 10, adds civil penalty

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TUCSON - Business restrictions in relation to the COVID-19 crisis have been extended in Pima County to April 10 after the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved the order 3-2 Thursday.

On March 19, Pima County Board of Supervisors vote to declare a local emergency in relation with more cases of deadly virus popping up across the area. By 8 p.m that night, all bars, movie theaters, cinemas, large public venues, gyms, fitness centers and some other businesses were ordered to close its doors through March 31.

The board then decided to extend these restrictions to April 10, six days after Gov. Doug Ducey extended school closures in the state to that same date.

To help reinforce the order of closure, the Board of Supervisors also approved a civil penalty to go hand-in-hand with its previous criminal penalty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

Through this, county officials said Health Department staff can respond to complaints of violations, aiding Pima County Sheriff's Department in the penalty process.

Under the new civil penalty, first-time violators would receive a written penalty. A second violation would results in a $500 fine, with violations after rising up to $2,500 per occurrence.

"It is not the county’s intent to dispatch compliance investigators across the unincorporated county. The County Health Department is relying on business owners to protect their employees and the public by following these restrictions and help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County," the board said in a statement. "The purpose of the penalties is to ensure compliance in case there are instances of businesses not fully following these mitigation efforts."

The board said it plans to meet every Thursday in order to respond to the current needs of the county during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.

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