“We face unprecedented and uncertain times because of COVID-19. However, the Chamber has been here for 123 years, and we intend to be here to lead businesses for another century. For this reason, based on available information, we emphatically believe it is in the best interests of the community, our restaurants and the employees that work in these establishments, to modify their operations to takeout and delivery only. In a meeting led by Mayor Regina Romero, including Vice-Mayor Paul Cunningham, our members, restaurateurs, Visit Tucson and the Pima County Health Department, this recommendation was strongly advocated for by the Chamber. Restaurants are regulated on having strong health and safety standards and they have been amplified during this crisis. Mayor Romero has called a Local Emergency to go in effect tonight at 8:00 p.m., to maintain public health. Dining rooms in restaurants, bars and food courts will be closed. Mayor Romero stated, “My top priority, above all else, is to protect public health. This is a painful decision that I do not take lightly. Our restaurants and small businesses need clear, uniform direction, and this order provides them exactly that.”
In using the feedback provided by the Chamber and some of our members at the March 16th meeting, the Mayor explicitly stated that this Local Emergency Order does NOT impact a restaurant’s ability to provide takeout or delivery services. The Mayor’s leadership in this situation recognizes the critical need for restaurants to continue to operate while protecting the health of those workers and community members at large. The Mayor has crafted a policy acknowledging the careful balance between the health of business and the health of community.
Restaurant food, sourced from the same place as many of our grocers, is just as safe as the food you buy at the supermarket. The risk of contracting COVID-19 in Pima County remains low in general and even lower when good hand washing practices are in place. Those same standards have been in the hospitality industry for decades. The health of our members and their employees are of utmost concern and we believe this recommendation is in support of those employees, those restaurants and our local hospitality industry. Our local businesses and their employees depend on your business to pay their bills. The more unemployed workers created during this crisis, the longer it will take for our community to recover. There is no doubt that our community will recover, and we must be proactive to try to control the depth of recovery necessary. We strongly stress the importance of being safe and smart. Your health and the health of your family is paramount. Do not leave your house if you are sick or feel ill. Go online or call your favorite local restaurant and purchase a gift card. For those not ill or in fragile health, place a takeout order and pick it up or have it delivered. It is mission critical to continue to support our local restaurants. The Tucson City of Gastronomy is a world-renowned designation bringing in many millions of dollars into our local economy. Our local food economy must survive to drive tourists to our wonderful community in the future. Please continue to support them as much as you can.”
Amber Smith, Tucson Metro Chamber President & CEO
In a statement from Mayor Regina Romero:
My statement on declaring a local emergency. Restaurants are NOT ordered closed. Dine-in services will be suspended, with the option for takeout/delivery.
“This morning, after consulting with business stakeholders, the City Attorney, and City Manager, I have made the determination that it is in the best interest of maintaining public health to suspend dine-in services in restaurants and food courts, and transition to delivery/pick-up only services. Bars, gyms, and other specific venues stated in the proclamation where groups of people congregate are directed to be closed through the end of the month.”
“My top priority, above all else, is to protect public health. This is a painful decision that I do not take lightly. Several restaurants have already stopped dine-in service and transitioned to all drive through and curb-side pick-up.”
“I want to reiterate that food being served by our restaurants is safe. It is the congregation of individuals in a dine-in setting that is unsafe.”
“At this time, the best thing we can do is come together as a community and take care of each other. We’re all in this together. We will get through this.”
In addition, Mayor Romero has ordered the following actions:
- All service counters and lobbies within city buildings, including Ward offices and City Hall, will be closed through the end of March. The City will be continuing services and operations electronically. For more information, please visit gov
- There will be no interruption in trash, recycling, landfill, or water services
- All evictions on city-owned public housing will be suspended through the end of April
- There will be no water shutoffs through the end of April