That is justified because they were previously closed for in-house dining, he said.
They have since been allowed to serve patrons. But Johnson said the restaurants still need the financial help because they remain “subject to capacity restrictions.”
Ducey press aide Patrick Ptak also defended the governor’s decision to block enforcement of the laws that prohibit restaurants from making off-site sales of alcoholic beverages. He called it one of many “tough decisions” Ducey had to make during the pandemic.
“This has been a way for many establishments to maintain their operations safely and responsibly while continuing to prioritize public health,” Ptak said. He said Ducey has “broad authority” relating to the enforcement — or non-enforcement — of laws.
Wurman said Ptak is partly right.
He said the laws do give Ducey the power to suspend laws dealing with things directly related to the pandemic, like regulation of doctors, hospitals and emergency medical technicians. Ducey already has done that, expanding the scope of practice allowed under state law to certain medical providers.
But Wurman said there is no basis for Ducey’s argument that he has pretty much unfettered ability to do anything as long as he says it involves “response and recovery” to the underlying emergency caused by COVID-19.
That, he said, would include “anything that alleviates secondary economic, political, cultural, social damage or whatever.” Wurman said that is unconstitutional.
“It gives him essentially unlimited power,” he said.