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Scottsdale mayor speaks out after large crowds gather in Old Town for Memorial Day weekend

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said he would personally reach out to the businesses that were open and had large crowds over the holiday weekend.
Credit: 12 News

PHOENIX — Hundreds of people gathered in Old Town Scottsdale over Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the first holiday since the coronavirus outbreak temporarily shut down businesses across Arizona. 

The photos and videos of the packed crowds forced a response from Mayor Jim Lane, who said in a series of tweets Tuesday night that the images were "disturbing" and showed a "lack of common sense and civic responsibility."

Lane said businesses in Scottsdale and their patrons need to realize that everyone plays an "absolute part in our own personal hygiene, distancing and health courtesies" and that everyone plays "a significant part in our city’s health."

Lane continued, saying the virus is spread between people and that "personal actions determine whether public health guidance is effective in blunting the spread of COVID-19."

RELATED: Has Arizona turned a corner in the fight against COVID-19?

Credit: 12 News

In a statement to 12 News, the Scottsdale Police Department no businesses were cited over Memorial Day weekend. 

There were also no calls to police for businesses in Old Town over the weekend "related to social distancing and/or overcrowding."

Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order expired on May 15, allowing restaurants to resume dine-in service and reopening shops, attractions, barbers, cosmetologists, casinos, pools, gyms and spas.

Physical distancing and additional sanitation efforts are among the guidelines in place for reopened businesses, but there is no clear enforcement policies across the board. 

CASA, a restaurant and bar on Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe, faced similar criticisms after crowds were seen gathering there before the stay-at-home order expired. 

Despite the fact that videos of the scene showed crowds of people with few, if any, wearing masks, Tempe Police told 12 News that officers determined they were "working within the parameters outlined per the governor's executive order."

RELATED: Tempe restaurant under fire as patrons appear to not follow Governor Ducey's guidelines

RELATED: Gov. Ducey will let stay-at-home order expire on May 15, announces new order for reopening Arizona

In the tweet thread, Lane said the city "succeeded" in preventing health care services from being overwhelmed but that it is "imperative" that all businesses comply with Ducey's executive order. 

"To ignore (the orders) is to risk faster spread of this disease and further damage to our physical and economic wellbeing," Lane continued. 

The Scottsdale Police Department said the city fully supports Ducey's executive orders and recommendations to limit the spread of coronavirus.  

The department said businesses in the city must "develop, establish and implement a policy related to the operation of their business and COVID-19 preventative measures."

But each business is free to develop their own plan and policy based on their circumstances, the department added. 

When the department receives a report about crowds or behavior that goes against the recommendations, officers will attempt to "create awareness and encourage support of the guidelines, but it is limited in what enforcement measures it may take."

Officers can only submit charges against a business that does not have a plan or policy after appropriate warnings are given, the department said.   

"Scottsdale PD is documenting issues and when appropriate will submit department reports to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Controls, which is the primary regulatory agency and law enforcement agency over businesses with liquor licenses," the department added. 

Lane said his office would continue to educate businesses and solicit their cooperation, and that he would personally reach out to the businesses that were open over the holiday weekend with large crowds.

The discussion would be about the "importance of our continued progress," Lane continued. 

"If we choose to respect one another as part of a community effort, we'll bring the city and the country back," he said. 

Lane did not rule out taking further action against businesses -- but did not say what that action could be or what it would take for that action to be taken.

"There are other steps that can be employed under the state and city emergency declarations if needed – we take these matters very seriously," Lane said. 

"Now more than ever we need people and businesses to do the right things."