May 13 (UPI) -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the state will be lifting its stay-at-home order Friday, clearing the path for professional sports to resume as early as this weekend.
During a press conference Tuesday, Ducey said he would not be renewing the stay-at-home order issued on March 30, and he will be replacing it with new guidelines for the next stage of economic recovery.
"This is not a green light to speed. This is a green light to proceed and we're going to proceed with caution," he said. "The objective is that we return stronger as a state -- that's what we want to focus on. And it was hard-fought to get the wins that we had to attain to come here. It was a great sacrifice."
Under the new guidelines, pools, fitness centers and spas may open Wednesday and major-league sports can resume without fans on Saturday.
Ducey said the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball League and Major League Soccer will be allowed to resume play.
He said he's spoken with leaders of some of the leagues and they welcome the invitation.
The guidelines align with those issued by the White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aiming to mitigate the health and economic risks of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 4.2 million people and caused nearly 300,000 deaths globally.
Since Arizona reported its first case on Jan. 26, it has recorded nearly 12,000 infections and more than 560 deaths due to the virus, according to data from the state's health department.
The Republican governor said that as part of entering the next phase of reopening, officials will be ramping up testing, tracking key health metrics, increasing hospital surge capacity and expanding contact tracing, among other measures.
"I'm grateful to all Arizonans for their partnership and cooperation during these trying times," he said in a statement. "By continuing to follow the data and recommendations of public health officials, we can continue to move forward safely and responsibly together."
The announcement came a day after the governors of Louisiana, South Carolina and Wisconsin said they would allow certain businesses to open soon.