Gov. Doug Ducey Bars Vaccine Mandates; Do Tribal-Owned Arizona Casinos Have To Follow Suit?

Written By C.J. Pierre on August 19, 2021
Ducey Bars COVID 19 Vaccine Mandates

Many private businesses across the country now require customers and employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In Arizona, some local officials are looking to put similar mandates in place. But the state’s governor is saying, “Not so fast.”

On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order warning city and county governments they cannot require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine. It’s safe, effective and free. But getting it is a personal choice, and we will not allow discrimination based on vaccination status.”

The order comes after the Tucson City Council voted to require that city employees show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Aug. 24 or face a five-day suspension without pay and possibly higher health insurance premiums.

City leaders hoping to enact vaccine mandates have hit a roadblock. However, what does this mean for tribal governments? And more important, how does this impact the casinos operated by tribes?

Will Arizona casinos have a vaccine mandate?

The executive order does not impact tribal governments.

To clarify, tribes and private businesses can implement vaccine mandates if they want. However, right now, customers and employees at the 26 tribal-owned Arizona casinos don’t have to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But that could change if the state continues to see more coronavirus cases.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the tribe’s next step to reach its goal of a 90% vaccination rate is to require all Navajo Nation employees to be vaccinated. He said there will be exceptions who will have to test regularly.

A budget-related bill that passed back in June during the Arizona legislative session bans cities, towns and counties from requiring COVID-19 vaccines. However, that measure, Senate Bill 1824, does not become law until Sept. 29. Executive orders take effect immediately.

Specifically, Ducey’s recent executive order states that any county, city, town or political subdivision official that implements a vaccine mandate will be committing a Class 3 misdemeanor. Violations could result in up to 30 days in jail and fines of up to $500.

Vaccine mandates in the world of sports

As it stands as a private business, the Arizona Cardinals could also implement COVID-19-related requirements. It wouldn’t be out of the norm, as several other NFL franchises have done the same.

For example, the Las Vegas Raiders announced that fans going to home games will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Similarly, the New Orleans Saints will require fans to show vaccination cards or proof of a negative test following a mandate from the city’s mayor.

Meanwhile, many teams, including the New York Giants, have said they won’t install such requirements. The NFL’s official policy has a “Fan Health Promise,” which makes all ticket holders “agree” not to attend a game if they’ve had a positive COVID test within 14 days and haven’t been vaccinated.

To date, no NBA or MLB teams have any vaccine mandates in place for fans.

On the college level, the only FBS team currently requiring fans to be vaccinated is Tulane, which falls under the same city policy as the Saints.

In the NHLonly the Winnipeg Jets require vaccines for fans.

Photo by AP / Ross D. Franklin
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C.J. Pierre

CJ Pierre is a multimedia journalist currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. CJ has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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