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.
For Phase 1, the White House recommended there be strict social distancing for all people in public. This includes avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people and nonessential travel is discouraged.
In Arkansas, that was already deemed the "norm" by Governor Asa Hutchinson and state officials before these phases were released by the Trump Administration.
However, due to these phases being a very broad roadmap meant to be used how each state saw fit, this also included a line of reopenings in Arkansas—with restrictions— announced by Hutchinson that began in early May.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.