Opinion: Curfew Shutdowns in Tucson Prove Ineffective

By Troy Hutchinson

Since late November, Tucson was on a lockdown and was supposed to end on Dec. 23 but was extended by Pima County, forcing businesses and bars to close their doors at 10 p.m.

Local businesses grew frustrated as the lockdown started to creep into the new year, causing their company to lose revenue, making it harder to stay open during these difficult times.

With frustration growing, local businesses Cobra Arcade Bar, HireWire Lounge, The Maverick and Union Public House joined together to file a lawsuit against Pima County, demining the curfew unlawful on Jan. 5, according to The Arizona Daily Star. That lawsuit overturned the curfew and opened companies up on Jan. 20, going back to business as usual. 

After talking to some local bar owners, no one was willing to go on the record to share their thoughts on removing the mandatory curfew, so I’ll share mine.        

The state of Arizona saw COVID-19 cases spike well into the thousands with no end in sight. Tucson had an increase in number since Nov. 23, from 36,659 confirmed cases in the city to 99,441 cases as of Jan. 28, which is eight days past the end of the curfew.

If the curfew was put in place to help flatten the curve of COVID-19, then it failed at doing so. Numbers don’t lie, we have seen the virus spread at an alarming rate even with businesses closing their doors between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

So, if numbers aren’t getting better and are increasing like they are, the issue is clearly more than people going to places that are open until 2 a.m. With that said, I don’t see the point of the curfew if it hasn’t helped lower the number of Covid cases and instead hurt local businesses that Tucson relies on to keep its economy going.

The growing number statewide is a problem that needs to be fixed to flatten the curve once again. However, as Tucson has shown, putting a curfew in place isn’t the solution because people will do what people want to do.

The way I look at it, we need to have a better way of monitoring what is going on in these businesses instead of taking the lazy approach of shutting things down. The police aren’t in charge of forcing the protocol put in place by the Pima County Health Department (PCHD), who is supposed to make sure the rules are followed but  only operate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If we are truly worried about businesses following COVID-19 protocol, we need to do a better job at monitoring them and coming up with a way to do so that won’t force these local establishments to shut their doors for good.

Think of all the businesses that have closed during this pandemic El Indio, Cafe Poca Cosa, Chicago Bar, Athen on 4th, and Rincon Market these are places that have been a part of the community for over 30 plus years. It’s places like this that keep a local economy going, and if we continue to restrict these establishments then the more we are going to lose.