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

Governor Hutchinson gave the green light for large venues and places of worship to reopen effective Monday, but with restrictions.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Governor Hutchinson announced guidance for reopening places of worship and large outdoor and indoor venues in Arkansas that go into effect Monday, May 4.

"We need to be careful to keep our cases going in the right direction, which is a downward or a flat trend. We've got to keep from having a resurgence," said Gov. Hutchinson.

For places of worship, Hutchinson said that although he continues to encourage online services, they are able to have in-person services with restrictions such as six-foot distancing (besides family groups) and face coverings being worn at all times.

The governor also announced that large outdoor venues, including race tracks, fairgrounds, festivals, etc. are also allowed to open but again, with several restrictions.

RELATED: Real-time updates: Over 3,400 coronavirus cases in Arkansas

Those restrictions include a 12-foot distance between performers, (which is why Hutchinson pointed out that these restrictions don't help with sports events), and 50 or fewer performers/players/contestants.

One of the first coronavirus outbreaks in Arkansas was at a Heber Springs church, which led to quick action from the Governor to stop large gatherings of people. 

Dr. Nate Smith with the Arkansas Department of Health says these new guidelines are everything the state knows to do to ensure there is not another large outbreak.

"We believe that if places of worship can put these in place faithfully the risk of transmission is not zero, but it is minimal," said Dr. Smith.

As for large indoor venues in Arkansas, they are also allowed to reopen as long as they follow the same general guidance as with the outdoor venues.

Hutchinson said as far as casinos, there will be a decision made soon.

RELATED: Barbershops, tattoo parlors in Arkansas to reopen May 6th with restrictions

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