Health Alert:   COVID-19 Transmission Level:   HIGH   More information
Wear a mask; stay home.
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  • Back To Business Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

    General Back To Business Questions

    What authority does Pima County and the Pima County Health Department have to enforce standards, above the guidelines issued by Governor Doug Ducey, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as restaurants, bars and other businesses begin to reopen?

    The phased reopening guidelines posted on our website were created by our Public Health physicians and are being used by the County's Back To Business Steering Committee as it works to develop the rules, regulations and best practices guidance for County businesses and the public. The Governor, by continuing his emergency declaration, prohibits Counties and municipalities from enacting COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions greater than those of the State. If the Governor lifts his emergency declaration and executive order, counties and municipalities would be able to consider whether to continue restrictions based on criteria like those Pima County has drafted, by using their own emergency declarations. In the meantime, Pima County will continue to use its phased reopening criteria to draft best practices guidelines for businesses to follow if they choose as the governor lifts statewide restrictions.

    When will Pima County reopen Board of Supervisor meetings to the general public?

    Meetings reopened to the general public on May 19. Members of the public must adhere to specific COVID-19 guidelines while the pandemic is ongoing.  

    Will Pima County be posting the results to the Reopening Restaurants Surveys?

    Yes, the survey results for Survey 1 are posted on our Back to Business webpage. Survey 2 results will be posted soon.

    Road to Recovery Subcommittee

    Can Pima County establish a public forum or an online site where people could evaluate places they visit for compliance and good practices? Public input could be in the form of surveys/checklists, comments and photos.

    It would be difficult to compile a comprehensive list since the County has thousands of restaurants, tourist destinations, and other places people visit. Instead, we suggest you visit the website of places you plan to visit to determine what precautions they are taking.

    Expediting Government Regulation (includes Bars & Restaurants; Retail and Grocery Stores; Resorts, Pools & Spas; and Attractions)

    As businesses open, what happens to staff who cannot return to work due to health or living conditions. Will they lose employment?

    The sick and leave time policies of employers will vary widely from business to business. The State of Arizona does have some laws that set a minimum standard for earned paid sick time. Employees should talk with their employer as soon as a challenge to returning to work is identified.

    AZ Industrial Commission Webpage

    If a business reopens, but employees choose to voluntarily stay home do they still qualify for unemployment?

    Understanding unemployment eligibility can be complicated. Many of the eligibility, time, and other requirements have been changed in order to allow more people to become and stay eligible. There are also federal benefits that are being administered through the State of Arizona that expand eligibility specifically to those affected by COVID-19. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit may provide expanded eligibility not traditionally offered as part of unemployment benefits.

    Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

    How will temperature checks of employees/guests detect asymptomatic people? How will employers be able to distinguish COVID-19 from allergies, asthma or anything else?

    Temperature checks are a good but, limited tool for quickly screening people who may have an infection from any number of pathogens. The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to other respiratory illnesses and issues (fever, cough, difficulty breathing). A temperature check is not intended to identify that a person has COVID-19. It is intended to indicate that a person may be experiencing symptoms of a contagious illness and that they should avoid others until they no longer have symptoms or have been further evaluated by a medical professional if necessary.

    Can people be denied entry or prevented from working if the establishment has listed use of face masks as a requirement? Isn’t this a HIPAA violation?

    There is nothing in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that pertains to the matter of preventing access to an establishment. HIPAA laws are specific to the privacy and protection of medical records and other potentially identifying health information that is provided to various health care entities.

    Will Pima County issue any type of guidance/recommendation for businesses to fall back on if/when guests/patrons refuse to comply with the new standards set forth by the establishment?

    Businesses may reference the May 21 Proclamation adopted by the Pima County Board of Supervisors which calls for minimum public health safety standards for operation during the COVID-19 pandemic..

    If a decision is made to require masks/gloves, will the County provide training materials on how to properly wear them?

    The wearing of single-use disposable gloves is already practiced in the restaurant industry, and their proper use is outlined in the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Food Code. Through routine facility inspections, employees are educated on proper glove-usage and hand washing. Because the wearing of masks by food employees may not be as familiar, training through guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), will also be provided.

    Can Pima County help businesses procure necessary PPE for reopening?

    Pima County is still experiencing a significant shortage in PPE and is currently prioritizing the needs of healthcare providers for their facilities. Until the need is met on a medical level, Pima County cannot commit to fulfill the PPE needs of individual business owners. However, the Pima County Procurement Department has compiled a list of potential suppliers from whom community businesses may be able to purchase PPE such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizer.

    Why aren’t retail and grocery store workers wearing masks? Don’t they have to follow the same provisions?

    Pima County does not regulate retail and grocery stores. The temporary regulations adopted by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on May 21 are restricted to what the Health Department oversees, which in this case applies to licensed food operations (restaurants, cafeterias, etc.) and public/semi-public pools (apartment, HOA, gym pools, etc.). It is an extension of the existing vital public health inspection duties required of County Health Departments by state law and County codes.

    Can restaurants require customers to pay a mandatory minimum gratuity of 25% to servers?

    Individual restaurants can make that decision if they choose.

    Will Pima County’s requirements for restaurants also apply to facilities with a limited food license?

    It is intended that any licensed food service provider providing food on premises to the public would be covered by any new rules or guidelines developed through this process.

    Can it be a requirement that all restaurants use disposable service ware (plates, utensils, cups, napkins, etc.)

    No that would create an additional financial burden for restaurants that don’t already use single use disposable utensils. Restaurants are already required to clean and sanitize utensils before use and all have needed equipment. Would you pay to eat a $50 steak dinner on a paper plate with a plastic fork and knife/

    Can restaurants choose to continue with takeout only?

    Individual restaurants can make that decision if they choose.

    Will Pima County be able to hold its Pima County Swim Team season this year?

    The Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department announced on May 22 that it would not open pools, splash pads and the swim team program this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more in the May 22 news release

    When will private swim lessons be able to resume?

    The Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation plans to begin offering a limited swim lesson program by early July. Decisions on all programs and facilities remain fluid, given the uncertainty of the coronavirus and evolving guidelines from public health officials. Check the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation website and NRPR’s Facebook page for updates. 

    Where can we find guidance for reopening HOA community centers and facilities?

    Governors web page.

    Will Pima County be providing printable materials in English and Spanish with updated recommendations for attractions (and others) to use related to hand washing, face covers and physical distancing?

    The Pima County Health Department has an existing landing page on its site with printable resources in both English and Spanish. As the department updates or develops new guidance, staff will add the links for community use.

    Will Pima County provide a way to report businesses who violate whatever mandates are put into place?

    Anyone who believes a restaurant or business is not following the county's minimum public health safety standards can visit the COVID-19 Safety Standards Business & Community Reporting page and ask the Health Department to review the standards with the business and educate owners, managers and staff on the minimum standards and how to keep themselves and the public safe during the pandemic.

    Bars and Restaurants

    Won’t at risk people always be at risk?

    Yes, persons with risk factors for developing complications due to COVID-19 will probably continue to have them unless the risk factor is modifiable (e.g., overcoming obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension).

    How does the public develop herd immunity if people stay home? / Why not get infected with SARS-CoV-2 to "get it over with"?

    While it is true that herd immunity/protection can stop the spread of an infectious disease within a population, it is not a reason to actively pursue exposure to a given infectious disease regardless of the lethality rate.

    Some people have suggested the idea of “controlled voluntary infection,” similar to the “chickenpox parties” of the 1980s (before the varicella vaccine was developed) where children were intentionally exposed to children with chickenpox. However, there are reasons why this is not recommended. Firstly, COVID-19 carries a much higher risk of progressing to severe disease and death and is estimated to be one hundred times more lethal than the chickenpox, and is estimated to be ten times more lethal than seasonal influenza – especially in persons with identifiable risk factors such as the elderly, those with chronic disease of the heart, lung, kidneys or liver, and those with diabetes or cancer. Even if it were inevitable for persons to eventually acquire the infection, it is preferable for this to occur very gradually then very rapidly because the healthcare system can only provide care to a limited number of persons at any given moment. Secondly, attaining herd protection for COVID-19 will probably require more than 70% of the population to be immune which would mean that over 200 million persons in the USA would have to get infected, and this would take years and consequently hundreds of thousands of deaths. Preventive measures, including social distancing, will “buy” time while a vaccine is developed provides herd immunity more safely.

    If Pima County is behind on testing, how can we determine it’s safe to reopen businesses or pools?

    National, state, and county surveillance of a combination of key indicators can help determine the trend in the transmission of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19. These indicators include (but are not limited to):
    1. Percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 at public health, clinical and commercial laboratories
    2. COVID-19 outpatient visits
    3. COVID-19 emergency department visits
    4. COVID-19 hospitalizations
    5. COVID-19 deaths
    6. Influenza-like illnesses
    7. COVID-19-like syndromic cases
    A downward trend in Pima County in each of these indicators, during the previous 14 days, would suggest that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in our community is decreasing.

    Close monitoring of the aforementioned indicators will detect a resurgence – which is certainly possible as components of mitigation are scaled back. In such a case, it may be necessary to re-implement community mitigation measures.

    How do the guidelines or temp checks apply to third party vendors who visit the facilities?

    Individual restaurant owners should set those expectations with their third-party vendors in advance. This would be true for other businesses that receive deliveries, have services or repairs performed on site.

    What happens if someone cannot, for medical reasons, wear a face mask?

    If a person cannot wear a face mask due to a medical condition, they should try an alternative face covering such as a scarf, a bandana, neck gaiter/warmer. If for medical reasons these options are also not possible, a face shield should be considered. You can find several DIY face shield options online, like this video

    Will the Pima County Health Department be monitoring all restaurant reopening to ensure all recommendations/new regulations (if any) are being adhered to?

    Pima County’s Consumer Health & Food Safety division will conduct inspections on a regular basis as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

    How will people be able to tell if a particular restaurant of facility has met the safety regulations?

    Inspectors from Pima County’s Consumer Health and Food Safety Program will work with pool, restaurant and other facility operators on compliance during regular inspections. All establishments that document adherence to the minimum best practice standards will earn a Pima County Best Practice Pledge badge that can be displayed electronically or physically to provide a visible symbol of the commitment to the community's health and wellbeing.

    Will a survey go out to gauge the safety measures service industry workers would like to see put in place before reopening?

    At this time there is no indication that a new survey will go out specifically for industry workers. The Restaurant and Bars Task Force already includes members from the food industry and their comments and recommendations were taken into consideration to draft the proposed guidance for reopening.

    Restaurants and their workers are eager to resume business, but will the community spend enough money for them to make a profit or stay in business?

    Although the State has permitted restaurants to resume dine-in services starting May 11, the decision to reopen will ultimately be made by individual restaurant owners. They can choose to reopen fully, partially or continue only offering takeout and curbside pickup.

    Business & Employee Health & Wellness

    For small businesses that had to close and stay closed, plus they own property, will the property taxes be lowered since the property is worth less or because they couldn’t generate enough income to pay their property tax?

    Property Taxes are established by State Statute and controlled by the state Legislature. Assessed Valuation is determined by the County Assessor based on market value. If the market values decline, then the Assessor has the option to reduce the assessed valuation upon which the property taxes are based.
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