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CASA GRANDE — The city of Casa Grande officially declared a state of emergency Wednesday evening because of the crisis surrounding the coronavirus, but what can the city do under such a declaration?

City of Casa Grande Public Information Officer Latonya Jordan-Smith stated in an email that the city charter and Arizona Revised Statutes give the mayor the ability to govern by proclamation during a declaration of emergency.

The Casa Grande city charter states that “the mayor shall govern the city by proclamation during times of riot, civil insurrection, major disaster and times of great public danger.”

Arizona Revised Statute 26-311 gives more details. It states that the mayor or the chairman of the board of supervisors has the authority during a declaration of emergency to “impose all necessary regulations to preserve the peace and order of the city, town or unincorporated areas of the county.”

According to the statute, those regulations can include: imposing curfews, ordering the closure of any business, closing to the public any public building, street or other public place, calling in law enforcement within or without the political subdivision for assistance and the ability to notify county elected officials that their offices may stay open or be closed for the emergency.

Jordan-Smith seemed to hint in her email that the city was not interested in closing businesses but would follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other federal and state guidelines on the matter.

But she also stated, “If businesses do not take appropriate actions to protect their employees and our citizens, then we will look at mandatory closings.”

She said Mayor Craig McFarland continues to work with federal, state and county officials to seek aid to local small businesses and families.

“Currently, he is advocating that Pinal County be added to the list of Arizona counties that will be eligible for Small Business Administration loans as a result of the impact,” she said.

Once the governor has added Pinal County to the list, the city will post information on its website on how small businesses can apply, Jordan-Smith said.

She also pointed to a recent bill passed by Congress that expands the Family Medical Leave Act to include families who are taking care of loved ones who are sick with the virus or children who are home because their school is closed. She said as soon as information on how to apply for the services is available the city will post it to its website.

According to the resolution passed unanimously by the City Council Wednesday evening, the emergency declaration will end when the state of emergency that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared on March 11 ends, unless the mayor decides to terminate the declaration sooner.

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