Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community issues mask mandate for businesses, restaurants, and schools

SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY — Masks are now required to be worn by everyone two years and older on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) which includes attractions, restaurants and hotels within the Talking Stick Entertainment District — Arizona Boardwalk, Odysea Aquarium, Medieval Times, Talking Stick Resort — in wake of the increase in COVID-19 cases.

The order also applies to businesses and schools on SRPMIC land.

As a sovereign tribe, the SRPMIC governs itself and can enact its own rules, though it is also following the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Effective immediately, all individuals who are 2 years of age or older and within the Community are required to wear face coverings if outside of their residence and are or will be in contact with other individuals who are not from their household whether in a public place, business, restaurants, churches, schools, government facilities, or any space offered to or for use by the public,” states the order, called the “Tenth Directive.”

“The purpose of these directives is to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19,” according to the order.

Under the order, businesses are expected to “require employees and all individuals patronizing their business to wear a face covering in public areas if they are or will be in contact with other individuals.” Those that do not would be in violation of the order and could face a civil penalty, according to the order.

Exceptions include those who cannot wear a mask due to medical or mental conditions or a developmental disability; those who are under two years old; when exercising outside with members of the same household; or when at the dentist, getting medical treatment, or swimming, among others.

Gaiters, bandanas or plastic shields are not considered to be proper face coverings.

Outside of the SRPMIC, there is no mask mandate in Arizona and under law, local governments and schools cannot pass their own mask mandates — something that is being defiantly challenged by several school districts in the Valley.

“Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement on July 27, after the CDC recommended that people — vaccinated and unvaccinated — return to wearing masks when indoors in wake of the delta variant.

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