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Here's what Phase 1 means as Arkansas reopens

The coronavirus pandemic has Arkansans wondering where they can and can't go during phase one and what the guidelines are when they get there.

ARKANSAS, USA — President Donald Trump announced on April 16 new guidelines aimed at easing restrictions in states with low transmission of coronavirus in an effort to begin the process of reopening economies in those areas.

These guidelines were separated into three different phases.

According to the White House, Phase Two is "for states and regions with no evidence of a rebound."

"ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

All individuals, WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. Social settings of more than 50 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed.


RELATED: President Trump unveils 'Guidelines for opening up America again'

In Arkansas, these guidelines laid out by the White House have already been deemed the "norm" by Governor Asa Hutchinson and state officials, gradually being announced over the past few months.

Dine-in restaurants 

Hutchinson announced on April 29 that restaurants in Arkansas can resume "limited dine-in service" on May 11 under Arkansas Phase 1 Guidelines. 

These guidelines require daily health screening of staff, use of face masks and gloves, along with strict social distancing.

Some of these guidelines include:

  • Restaurants must limit the number of customers to one-third of total capacity.
  • Tables must be 10 feet apart so that diners will be seated six feet away from diners at other tables.
  • Each employee who directly interacts with patrons must wear a face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth. Kitchen staff and others are encouraged to wear a mask.
  • Each employee must wear gloves. Gloves should be changed between each customer, customer group, or task.
  • Management must conduct a daily health screening of all employees before they enter the restaurant. 

For more information on what you need to know about going to dine-in restaurants in the state while we are in Phase 1, click here.

Bars inside restaurants were given the okay to reopen on May 19, while stand-alone bars can reopen May 26.

In the White House's "Opening Up America Again" plan, it advises that "Bars should remain closed" during the first phase.

RELATED: Arkansas restaurants offer dine-in services with limitations in place

Gyms and fitness centers

On April 30, Hutchinson announced lifting restrictions on Arkansas gyms and fitness centers beginning on May 4

In Phase 1, gyms and fitness centers must implement guidelines while in operation, such as using face masks except when exercising, daily temperature checks for employees and patrons, and social distancing of at least 12 feet while exercising.

Before entering, you cannot have the following characteristics or you should not be allowed in the facility:

  • Have returned from travel to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Orleans or overseas within the last 14 days;
  • Have had a fever of 100.4°F or greater in the past two days;
  • Have a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell;
  • Had contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days;
  • Have compromised immune systems and/or have chronic diseases.

For more information on gyms and fitness centers reopening in Arkansas, click here.

RELATED: Arkansas gyms navigate reopening doors with restrictions in place

Hair salons, massage parlors, body art, etc.

On May 1, the governor announced that barbershops, body art establishments, body art schools, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics and spas, and medical spas may resume operations on May 6, under Phase 1 guidelines. 

These guidelines include pre-screening employees and clients, prohibiting walk-in appointments, use of gloves at all times, use of face masks as services permit, and appropriate social distancing.

These businesses must pre-screen clients for potential COVID-related symptoms before they arrive for an appointment using the following questions:

  • Have you had a fever of 100.4 F or greater in the past two days
  • Do you have a cough, difficulty breathing, a sore throat, or loss of taste or smell?
  • Have you had contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the past 14 days?

For more information from the ADH on Phase 1 guidelines for these businesses, click here.

RELATED: Some salon owners are against reopening by April 27, despite having no income

Theaters, Lecture Halls, Other Large Venues

On May 4, Hutchinson announced that theaters, lecture halls and other large indoor venues such as arenas, stadiums, and auction houses that are designed for large groups may reopen on May 18 on a limited basis.

In a directive issued by the ADH, the venues are only allowed to open for audiences of fewer than 50— and that requires strict social distance among performers, contestants, and members of the audience. 

The directive is not intended for gatherings of people in unconfined outdoor spaces, such as parks or athletic fields, where physical distancing of at least six feet can be easily achieved. Those were given the okay to reopen on May 4.

This announcement covered a wide variety of venues including movie theaters, other theaters, museums, arenas, sports venues, race tracks, and more. To read about all of what is considered under this directive, click here.

RELATED: Places of worship, large venues in Arkansas can reopen with restrictions

Arkansas State Parks

On April 28, Hutchinson announced that beginning May 15, Arkansas State Parks would open visitor information centers, museums and exhibits, gift shops, golf pro shops, marinas, and equipment rental. 

Staff is to limit the number of visitors allowed into the visitor centers and shops and will enforce social distancing.

State Parks also will reopen cabins, lodges, and RV rental. Rentals will be limited to Friday through Monday to allow for deep cleaning between visitors. 

What is closed:

  • Swimming beaches (announced to reopen on May 22)
  • All camper cabins.
  • Group Lodging: Lake Fort Smith, Crowley’s Ridge, and Historic Washington state parks.
  • Cedar Falls and Cedar Falls Overlook Trails at Petit Jean State Park.
  • At Devil's Den State Park, the Fossil Flats Mountain Bike Trail and Yellow Rock Trail are closed.
  • All Playgrounds
  • Crater of Diamonds State Park diamond search field and Diamond Discovery Center.
  • All park interpretive programming.

Click here for more information on the restrictions of Arkansas State Parks.

RELATED: Pools, swim beaches in Arkansas allowed to open on May 22

RELATED: Out-of-state travelers can stay in hotels, lodges and Arkansas state parks again

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