PHOENIX -- Declaring the pandemic effectively over in Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey is abolishing all the restrictions that remain on businesses and public gatherings.

And he is eliminating the ability of local communities to maintain their own mask mandates.

In a new executive order Thursday, the governor abolished all the limits on how businesses need to operate. That dissolves any remaining requirements to limit the number of customers to ensure social distancing and to require that staff and patrons wear masks.

Instead, everything that used to be a mandate is now simply a "recommendation.'' That means business can -- but are not required -- to have mask mandates.

That also means that all the music venues and bars that have been shuttered are free to open their doors again. And here, too, while there is a suggestion to maintain social distancing and masks, that is no longer a requirement.

But Ducey is not ending the emergency he declared slightly more than a year ago. That gives him the right to reimpose any of the restrictions any time he wants.

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