BISBEE — Persistence paid off for one local mayor who says he has been acting to protect his constituents, whether they are for him or against him.
Bisbee Mayor David Smith announced July 1 the Safeway grocery store will now require customers and staff to wear masks while in the store, and will follow the mayor’s June 17 order requiring all residents and visitors in Bisbee in public places to wear a facial mask sufficient to help prevent the spread of COVID–19.
“If you insist on entering without, a manager will call the police,” he said in an interview with the Herald/Review Thursday. “It’s that simple. I don’t care if you don’t want to wear a mask, just do it. Your threats to not vote for me are outweighed by my need to protect the public.
“The governor’s request for ‘soft touch enforcement’ is over. I have been in contact with Safeway district offices again and they have contacted management at our store. I have spoken to the store and they are now in compliance,” he added.
Smith said he was glad the store finally got on board to protect its staff, a few of whom have contracted the virus, and customers.
“I basically told them I wanted them to require masks to protect everybody. That I was tired of them messing around not forcing people to wear masks. I told them to get their act together. I wanted something done. I understand their position of not wanting their staff to confront people, get in verbal fights. But now, they will ask people to leave and if necessary, they will call the police.”
At Safeway, if a customer does not have a mask, the store will provide it, according to Smith, who said Safeway officials called Wednesday evening to give him the news. If a person refuses to wear a mask they will be asked to leave and will not be allowed to shop there.
“Throughout this pandemic, the health and safety of our associates, shoppers, and everyone who walks through our doors has been our top priority.” said Nancy Keane, Public Affairs and Government Relations l Albertsons Safeway, Southwest Division, in an emailed statement to the Herald/Review.
“We require our associates to wear masks and expect that our customers follow all applicable local and state regulations with respect to face coverings for their protection and for that of our associates.”
Bisbee police officers decided to keep a passive presence and are walking the streets in Old Bisbee. They were directed by Smith to inform maskless folks of the executive order without confrontation.
“If someone is walking a dog, they don’t have to have one on. But, they should have one with them to put on if a group of people approaches,” said Smith.
“It’s a pity the government has to do this to keep people safe. I hate the fact that government must protect you from yourself, but so be it. I don’t care what some other mayor is or isn’t doing.”
Following Gov. Doug Ducey’s order to close bars with No. 6 or No. 7 liquor licenses through July 27, confusion has arisen. No. 6 licenses are beer and wine establishments; No. 7 are bars. They cannot serve alcohol to customers at all, even if food is served. Establishments with other liquor licenses are not subject to the order.
Smith explained all bars with No. 6 or No. 7 liquor licenses are mainly establishments for the consumption of alcohol, not food. This order includes hotel bars. Hotels may not serve drinks in their restaurants, but they may serve takeout closed container drinks from the door or can offer room service to their registered guests. Drinks cannot be consumed elsewhere on premises.
Actual restaurants may serve alcohol with the meal. However, they must maintain all Centers for Disease Control and Preventions rules regarding sanitation and distancing, Smith said.
Ducey also required the state Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to halt the issuing of any new special event and festival licensing due to social distancing requirements and limited attendee admissions.
However, he allowed local governments the authority to approve certain gatherings as long as safety precautions and social distancing are followed.
Other closures by Ducey included theaters, waterparks and tubing recreation.