Arizona’s Outdoor Exercise Rules During the Coronavirus Restrictions
April 2, 2020
By Craig A. Logsdon and Ashley Wiberg
The gyms are closed and people have taken their workouts outside. Trainers, athletes, and the rest of us who are just trying to stay in shape need to understand the rules when we exercise.
In short, enjoy your workout and stay six feet apart. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s COVID-19 Executive Orders encourage outdoor fitness activity in compliance with specific safety rules. They also ensure the same restrictions apply statewide, so one city does not have different laws than another city.
Indoor workout facilities were among the first casualties of the coronavirus restrictions. Governor Ducey closed them on March 20, 2020 in Executive Order No. 2020-9. The closing did not prohibit outdoor activities, keeping parks, hiking trails, and even golf courses open. As a result, some public areas got crowded.
When Governor Ducey issued the “Stay at Home” order, Executive Order No. 2020-19, which took effect March 31, he made sure people could still exercise outdoors, including playing golf.
The full name of the Executive Order emphasizes the need to remain active: it is called “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected.” Additionally, Paragraph 3(c) of the order says that Arizonans “are encouraged” to do things like develop “habits and activities that increase resilience, such as physical activity.”
The orders allow for limited outdoor activity while emphasizing the need for social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Laws Allowing Outdoor Exercise with Social Distancing
Executive Order No. 2020-19 has specific provisions governing outdoor exercise. Paragraph 4(d) specifically defines outdoor exercise as an “Essential Activity,” which is allowed despite the “Stay at Home” order. Social distancing, however, must be observed.
Paragraph 5 recognizes that people can exercise together in a “shared space” outside of their property. When they do, they must stay six feet apart “to the extent possible.”
This law applies statewide. Paragraph 15 prohibits local governments from passing laws with further restrictions. Cities and counties are, however, permitted to close and regulate their parks. So far, most open spaces remain open, although some locations have closed park equipment, practice fields, basketball courts, and other park facilities. Entering a closed area could lead to trespassing charges.
Consequences for Violating the Orders
People need to be careful because violating the requirements of an Executive Order is a class 1 misdemeanor, which is a criminal violation. However, you are unlikely to have serious trouble if you cooperate and act in good faith. The Executive Order instructs law enforcement to educate offenders and give them a chance to comply before issuing a citation.
Another part of the Executive Order protects people from overly-aggressive enforcement efforts. Paragraph 2(c) says that police cannot require people to prove they are complying with the order: “No person shall be required to provide documentation or proof of their activities to justify their activities under this order.”
Outdoor exercise is permitted. Common sense applies in the orders: keep your distance from others, stay away from closed areas, and obey police.