On March 30th, 2020, Arizona State Governor Douglas Ducey executed a Stay Home, Stay Health, Stay Connected executive order (“EO 2020-18”), effective through April 30, 2020 (unless extended). EO 2020-18 emphasizes and reinforces the importance of staying home whenever possible. Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic can help slow the spread of the virus. Although the order’s goals are relatively simple, the details of the order are not   and many people may have questions about how the order affects them. Here, we elaborate on some of the specific provisions of the order

Although the executive order’s purpose is to encourage people to remain inside their home if at all possible, it is not considered a “quarantine” or “lockdown.” Exclusions to the general rule to remain inside your home include conducting or participating in “Essential Activities,” volunteering or participating in “Essential Functions,” utilizing services or products provided by “Essential Businesses.

But what is an “Essential Activity”? Under  2020-18, “Essential Activities” is a broad term and includes the following:

  1. Grocery shopping for your household.
  2. Shopping for anything needed to work from home or educate children from home.
  3. Shopping for anything needed to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential maintenance of the home or residence.
  4. Going to the hospital for yourself, your family members, or your pets.
  5. Engaging in exercising outdoors as long as social distancing practices are being observed.
  6. Transporting children to childcare services.
  7. Engaging in constitutionally protected activities, including any legal or court process as long as appropriate physical distancing is utilized to the extent feasible.

Under the executive order, nobody is required to provide proof or documentation that they are traveling to these essential activities. Types of businesses that are considered essential include healthcare and public health operations (such as hospitals), human services operations, government functions, grocery stores, professional services (such as law firms or accounting firms), and financial institutions. These are only a few of the types of businesses that are deemed essential.

Governor Ducey’s order also encourages Arizonans to “improve social connectedness, resiliency, and help-seeking behavior.” Examples include maintaining connections with family, friends and social groups, participating in physical activity, virtual social gathering and volunteer activities, sharing information and resources and educating others on the negative effects of social isolation.

Perhaps the most important part of the executive order deals not so much with whether we can go out, but how we are to behave once outside of the home. The order states, “To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces when outside their residence or property for Essential Activities, they shall to the extent possible maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from any other person, consistent with guidance from the CDC.” The practice of staying at least six feet away from others has already been recommended and has become a good rule of thumb during this time, but now it is embodied in an executive order and enforceable by law.

Note that this executive order is not a “shelter-in-place” order (like those in other states such as California). This executive order is also not a quarantine. Many other states have executed similar orders, although they may differ slightly.

As family law attorneys, we want to emphasize that this executive order does not supersede court orders related to legal decision making and parenting time. In fact, the Family Department of the Maricopa County Superior Court has issued this statement:

The family department has received a number of inquiries as to how the Governor’s Executive Order impacts existing parenting time schedules. As a general policy, the family department has concluded that allowing children to maintain regular access to each parent is in their best interests and the transporting of children for the start and end of each block of parenting time is part of the essential business that is authorized under the Governor’s Executive Order. While the facts of any given case shall dictate the result, it is the general view of the family department that existing parenting plan schedules remain in effect and enforceable.

Arizona is not under quarantine. We encourage our clients to make sure their children can “stay connected” with both parents during this challenging time. Our Arizona attorneys are still available to help you through this difficult time. Feel free to contact us today.