The arrival of winter visitors is a welcome indication of cooler days ahead. If you are a returning visitor or discovering our state’s cooler months, welcome! We want you to be safe and healthy while you’re here, and we need your help to protect everyone this winter. With COVID-19 still active in our communities, I also want to make sure you have all the information needed to protect your health while helping us all reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Most importantly, please follow the precautions Arizonans have used to combat COVID-19, starting with wearing a mask or cloth face covering in public. Masks are required in much of Arizona, whether by local or county mandates or private businesses. Certain establishment types, such as restaurants, bars, indoor theaters, and gyms also require masks to be worn, regardless of whether there is a local or county mask mandate. So be sure to research the requirements before setting out. Regardless of whether masks requirements are in effect in a certain location, I strongly recommend masking up in public until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.
Arizonans also have successfully reduced the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining physical distance, washing and sanitizing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and taking other precautions you can find at azhealth.gov/COVID-19.
If you are having friends and family over, please keep the groups small and physically distanced. Be sure to wear masks if your gathering is going to be inside, but I strongly recommend taking advantage of Arizona’s great weather by having these gatherings outside, where COVID-19 transmission is less likely. Some winter visitors may be coming from places where COVID-19 is more prevalent, and there is an increased risk of exposure whenever you travel. If you are staying with us for the winter, it’s a good idea to stay at your winter home for the first 14 days in Arizona before venturing out into public to ensure you don’t transmit the virus to your friends, family and people in the community.
If you’re eager to explore our great state, I can’t blame you. But do note that travel comes with risks. You’ll want to be extra vigilant about those COVID-19 precautions when traveling. It is always a good idea to carry hand sanitizer and extra masks with you. As enticing as it is to hit the road, you’re always safer at home.
You should get tested if you have any COVID symptoms, have been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID or think you’ve been exposed. Testing and identifying cases is important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 testing is widely available in Arizona, with fast turnaround times – usually 24-48 hours. We also have free saliva-based testing available. You can find a testing location at azhealth.gov/COVID19Testing.
There’s no doubt this year looks a little different for winter visitors and everyone who calls Arizona home. It’s important that all of us keep our guard up and make smart decisions to protect our communities while enjoying Arizona’s most wonderful time of the year.