Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order preventing local governing bodies from implementing mask mandates Aug. 16 after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled a law prohibiting mask mandates does not take effect until Sept. 29—90 days after the end of the legislative session.

"We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine—it's safe, effective and free," Ducey said in a statement. "But getting it is a personal choice, and we will not allow discrimination based on vaccination status. Today's order builds on our efforts to protect Arizonans from excessive mandates that hinder their freedom to choose what's best for their health."

The executive order states that "any county, city, town or political subdivision official that implements a vaccine mandate contrary to the authorities outlined in this order is in violation of A.R.S. 36-114 and 36-184, and such actions are punishable by a Class 3 misdemeanor and subject to legal action by individuals for violation of their rights under Arizona law; and any county, city, town or political subdivision official that fails to provide earned sick leave to an employee if it is recommended that the employee stay home due to exposure to COVID-19 is in violation of the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, and action may be taken by individuals pursuant to the act in the courts or through the industrial commission."

The order comes just hours after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Phoenix Union High School District—which was sued by a teacher after imposing a mandatory mask mandate across the district—citing that the law is not in effect until Sept. 29. The judge noted that there is an exception for emergency measures, but those measures require a two-thirds majority vote, and the statute was not approved by that two-thirds majority.

The law in question was tacked onto the budget bill passed by the Arizona Legislature earlier this summer.

Statewide, 10 school districts have implemented mask mandates. Chandler USD, Higley USD and Gilbert Public Schools have not implemented mask mandates.