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COVID-19: Some Pima County bars violating safety requirements

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TUCSON (KVOA) -  Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry issued a memorandum to the County Board of Supervisors that informs them of some of the COVID-19 safety violations alleged against Tucson-area businesses that serve food and alcohol.

 It is the first of many that'll be sent out weekly to inform the board of safety issues with respect to businesses and COVID-19 safety.

The memorandum states, there were a number of complaints issued for people not wearing safety masks. It goes on to say: "For the week of June 23, 2020 through June 30, 2020":

• 72 Proclamation complaints received and addressed
• 98 onsite assessments completed (due to a combination of complaints, requests, and routine scheduled inspections.)
• Complaints were submitted by customers and employees and included issues regarding lack of cleaning, lack of masks by employees, ill employees, etc. "

The memorandum went on to say: "Last week I directed Consumer Health and Food Safety Division of the Health Department to visit every bar in Pima County that holds a series 6 or 7 liquor license from the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to make sure they were in compliance with the Governor’s Order.

Of the 200 facilities, 168 were visited July 2 through July 5. The remainder are in more remote locations of the County and will be visited as soon as possible.

Note that the Executive Order does allow these types of facilities to serve customers through pick-up, delivery and drive-thru.

Some of these facilities have additional types of liquor licenses that were not impacted by the Order. For example, Peter Piper Pizza has a series 7 and series 12 liquor licenses. They are able to continue to serve alcohol to customers sitting at tables.

 Of the 168 visited:

 • 124 facilities were closed.

 • 44 facilities were open for business and an onsite observation was conducted.

 • 11 facilities were referred to the State Liquor Board for non-compliance, including the following:

 • Zona 78 7301 E Tanque Verde

 • Famous Sam’s 2320 N Silverbell Rd

 • Old Father Inn 4080 W Ina Rd

 • Salty Dawg II 6121 E Broadway Blvd

 • Iguana Café 210 E Congress

 • El Chinito Gordo 2920 N Oracle Rd

 • Home Plate 4880 E 22nd St

 • Famous Sams # 17 8058 N Oracle Rd

 • Casa Marana 8225 N Courtney Page Way

 • Circle S Saloon 16021 W EL TIRO RD

 • Buggy Wheel 3156 E Drexel

Loni Anderson, REHS, RS / Pima County Health Department - Division Manager, said: "We are just referring them in terms of being open and leaving that up to the Liquor Board to determine their compliance. It doesn't mean that we're asking them to close, but we're getting that additional confirmation from the state liquor board."

Brian Bouffard owns the Oldfather Inn on Ina Road and says his establishment should not be on the list.

"We require facemasks when you walk in and any time when you're standing on your feet you've got to have a facemask on," said Bouffard. "The only time you cannot is if you're sitting at a table and six feet away from anyone."

He also reiterated that the Oldfather Inn passed the Pima County Health Department's check as recently as July 3, and provided the documentation.  Bouffard said that even if the business' licensing was in question, "We're operating off of our gambling license which requires me to be open for all races seven days a week, so we open on the first race and close after the last race. It's a legal option that I'm using and we're doing nothing wrong, but we're only open as an off-track betting site no different than Turf Paradise or Tucson Greyhound Park." 

After the Memorandum to the County Board of Supervisors was made public, Zona 78 issued this statement to a News 4 Tucson reporter:

"We are in compliance regarding both of our liquor licenses. We have coordinated with the Pima County Health Department & have received the “Ready for You” badge that is given to restaurants & not bars."

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Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last five years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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