Doug Ducey Tucson UofA
Gov. Doug Ducey toured the university's COVID-19 vaccination site and research facilities during his visit on Wednesday. (Chris Richards / University of Arizona)

All remaining COVID-19 mitigation requirements in Arizona – local mask mandates included –were rolled back Thursday.

A new executive order from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey changes requirements for businesses to recommendations. Bars and nightclubs can resume full operations, and events of 50-plus people – youth sports included – no longer must be approved by local officials.

Businesses may still choose to require mask-wearing and physical distancing, and can refuse service to those who don’t comply with their mitigation requirements.

“In Arizona, we never did a shutdown, so it’s impossible to have a grand reopening. Instead, we are continuing to take reasonable, safe and sensible steps,” Ducey said in a news release. “The measures put in place last summer allowed Arizona to fight back COVID-19 …. Today, we are in a different spot, and we are also a lot smarter. I’m confident Arizona’s businesses and citizens will continue to practice the fundamentals and act responsibly as we gradually get back to normal.”

Ducey did not implement a statewide mask mandate, though some local governments did, but enforcement was uneven. The executive order phases out local mask mandates, even though the face coverings are still favored among unvaccinated populations.

The governor’s office pointed to a number of factors leading to his action, including mass distribution of the coronavirus vaccine and many weeks of declining cases and hospitalizations.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Health Services opened up registration for the vaccine to all residents aged 16 and up.