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New executive order from Arizona Gov. Ducey removes COVID-19 occupancy limits for businesses

Occupancy limits will be rescinded for Arizona businesses including restaurants, gyms, theaters, water parks, bowling alleys and bars providing dine-in services.

PHOENIX — A new executive order from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is peeling back some restrictions on businesses, mainly rescinding capacity limits.

In the new order, businesses are still expected to follow safety protocols including physical distancing and masks but occupancy percentage limits will no longer be in place.

This applies to restaurants, gyms, theaters, water parks, bowling alleys and bars providing dine-in services.

The order also reflects that Spring training and major league sports facilities can operate with fans upon a plan that is approved by the Arizona Department of Health Services that shows the facilities have implemented safety precautions and physical distancing measures.

Spring training and major league sports facilities in Arizona are currently operating with a limit number of fans, which varies from facility to facility.

The order also states that Mayors and local entities will still be precluded from implementing extreme measures that shut down businesses.

You can read the full executive order here

The order comes as Arizona has shown seven weeks of declining coronavirus cases. 

Arizona has administered 2,016,512 total vaccines COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Friday.

Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases was nearly 1,172 as of Thursday, down from about 1,585 on Feb. 18, while the rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 87.7 to 62 during the same period.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 2,276 new cases and 84 new deaths on Friday.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Arizona on March 5: 2,276 new cases, 84 new deaths reported Friday

“Like the rest of the country, Arizona has made its way out of the winter surge of cases. And we are leading the nation in the vaccination roll out. Our mitigation strategies have been targeted and data driven," a statement from Ducey read, in part. "Today’s announcement is a measured approach; we are not in the clear yet."

The news came as a surprise for many business owners and not everyone is rushing to make changes.

"I’m not looking to make any major changes right now that could disrupt our positive flow right now," says Gayle Shalloo.

Shalloo runs CrossFit Full Strength in central Phoenix and says they've been in pretty good shape since they reopened back in August with smaller class sizes.

"I don’t think we’ll ever just open up and allow 30 people in our gym," she says. I kind of like having the smaller classes and letting people space out."

That decision doesn't always come so easily.

"Obviously as a restauranteur, we want things to go back to normal and be able to seat 100% occupancy, but the reality is we’re not quite there yet."

Carly Long with Carly's Bistro tells 12 News over the phone that she's sticking with their outdoor seating even with decreasing case numbers and increased vaccinations.

"At this point that it’s not possible for us to be seating 100% capacity and maintaining social distancing measures."

Other businesses, like Mountainside Fitness, shared on social media it would have their locations ready for expanded capacity as early as Monday.

On Wednesday, Ducey issued an executive order that requires public schools in the state to get back to teacher-led, in-person learning by March 15, in less than two weeks, or after the school's spring break.

RELATED: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey orders public schools back to in-person learning by March 15

Arizona reached 800,000 coronavirus cases on Feb. 17, 700,000 on Jan. 22, 600,000 on Jan. 9, 500,000 on Dec. 28, 400,000 on Dec. 12, 300,000 on Nov. 23, 200,000 on Aug. 27, 100,000 on July 6 and 50,000 cases on June 21.  

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