Arizona governor issues order banning cities, counties from enacting vaccine mandates

Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyGOP governors traveling to border to unveil new security initiative Treasury says Arizona can't use federal COVID-19 aid for anti-mask education grants No silver bullet for crisis at the Southern border MORE (R) issued an executive order Monday banning cities and counties from enforcing vaccine mandates for their employees, days after Tucson voted to require the shot for its workers. 

The governor's executive order takes immediate effect and says any violation could result in a class 3 misdemeanor with up to one month in prison or up to $500 in fines. 

Ducey had signed an Arizona Senate bill in late June that outlawed local governments from implementing vaccine requirements, but that law will not go into effect until Sept. 29. The order noted that it applies to any actions taken by local governments to mandate vaccines since then.   

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"We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine — it's safe, effective and free," Ducey said in a statement. "But getting it is a personal choice, and we will not allow discrimination based on vaccination status. Today's order builds on our efforts to protect Arizonans from excessive mandates that hinder their freedom to choose what's best for their health."

The governor’s move comes as battles between state and local governments on vaccine mandates have heated up in recent weeks.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero objected to Ducey’s executive order, calling it “legally meaningless” after a review from the city attorney general. 

She said Tucson’s vaccine requirement for city workers that was approved last week will remain in place, requesting they show they got at least one dose by Aug. 24 or face suspension without pay or higher health insurance premiums. 

“Governor Ducey is paving the way for COVID-19 to spread uncontrollably throughout our state, and attempting to impede those of us who believe in science-based solutions at the local level,” she said in a statement.

“Governor Ducey must stop prioritizing his political aspirations over the health and well-being of Arizonans,” she added. “We have seen the deadly repercussions of similar approaches by the Governors of Texas and Florida.”

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Earlier this year, Ducey had declared a ban against vaccine passports for residents to receive service or go inside certain premises. Another executive order prohibited vaccine mandates for students.

The Arizona governor’s current order also required all local governments to give earned sick time to their workers for them to use if they contract COVID-19.