Pima County’s mandatory 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew has been temporarily halted after a group of Tucson bars were granted a preliminary injunction barring the county from enforcing the curfew.
Owners of Cobra Arcade Bar, HighWire Lounge and The Maverick filed a joint lawsuit on Jan. 5 contending the county overextended their legal authority to mandate a curfew.
The owner of The Maverick, Grant Krueger, included other Tucson restaurants he owns in the lawsuit: Union Public House, Reforma Modern Mexican and Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta.
After considering the evidence at a Jan. 15 hearing, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ordered Pima County to cease enforcing the curfew in a ruling filed Jan. 19.
“The Court finds the hardships imposed on the Plaintiffs by the curfew are severe. Additionally, the hardships are arguably unfair because the Court finds Plaintiffs can adhere to the ADHS required safety measures both before and after 10 p.m.,” Johnson wrote in the ruling, echoing the defendant’s arguments. “Moreover, the virus is spread just as easily late at night as it is during the day. Bar patrons can drink excessively during the day just as easily as they can at night.”
While the judge acknowledged the challenges Pima County has managing the COVID-19 pandemic, she held the parties’ legal arguments tipped in the restaurant owners’ favor.
“The County could not demonstrate in testimony or other evidence that more cases are contracted after 10 p.m. Nor has it demonstrated specifically that its current hardships are worsened by people and businesses engaging in conduct after 10 p.m.,” Johnson wrote of the county’s defense. “To the contrary, the burden the County faces in managing this pandemic will continue until the pandemic is under control. The County has simply failed to demonstrate how the curfew not being enforced would cause it additional hardship.”
Johnson wrote she’s granting the injunction on the grounds that the curfew is not “statutorily authorized,” the plaintiffs demonstrated the harm it causes them and it violates Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order.
The governor’s May 12 executive order states: “...no county, city or town may make or issue any order, rule or regulation that conflicts with or is in addition to the policy, directives or intent of this Executive Order, including but not limited to any order restricting persons from leaving their home due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
The curfew will be halted until the resolution of the case. A trial date has yet to be set.