People wear face masks while waiting in line to enter the Ross store in May. Photo by Bob McGovern

Use of face masks in Maricopa will not be mandatory, the city mayor has decided.

Mayor Christian Price announced on Facebook Wednesday afternoon that he would not force residents to wear face coverings in public.

He did echo the request of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey for residents to wear face masks voluntarily.

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“The Governor now says that citizens of Arizona are requested – HIGHLY SUGGESTED even – to wear masks or face coverings when out and about from your own home…,” the post said. “It’s not necessarily “mandated”, per se, but we are requested to follow the most up to date CDC guidelines and in the Gov’s own words: “He would like to see every Arizonan wear a mask or face covering.” (Especially when unable to social distance).”

As far as restaurants, Price said if restaurateurs are already complying with earlier Phase 1 requests, then all is good. If not, he added, the Pinal County Health Department will be enforcing those guidelines.

“So please just be a good actor here and do your part,” he wrote.

Among the dozens of comments left on his Facebook post were sighs of relief and pleas to make masks mandatory.

Earlier Wednesday, Ducey gave local governments the authority to mandate masks in their cities. The governor’s move came amid public pressure for him to take action to address the surging number of new coronavirus cases in the state.

Ducey said any mandate should rest with local authorities because the number of new cases varies greatly from city to city.

A number of mayors in other Arizona cities – Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa, among them – have already moved to implement a face mask requirement for residents.

Officials in Chandler sent out a tweet on Wednesday saying the City Council will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday to “discuss & possibly take action regarding directives for residents relating to reducing the spread of COVID-19 including masks/social distancing.”

A vote will be taken Friday in Gilbert on the matter.