Governor Asa Hutchinson announced an 11 p.m. curfew for Arkansas businesses, amid concerns about a surging third wave of COVID-19 cases in a press release Thursday.
Starting Friday, Arkansas businesses with a license to sell or allow consumption of alcohol will now be required to close early. The order, which is effective until Jan. 3, 2021, applies to bars, restaurants and private clubs with on-site permits.
Hutchinson said that the curfew requirement is an attempt to target transmission hotspots as Arkansas’ case and deaths skyrocket. It is intended to maximize the public use of social distancing and face coverings, which may not be feasible while dining or drinking out.
Total active confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Arkansas rose by 421 to 16,998 Thursday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. There have been 139,855 cumulative confirmed and probable cases, with 2,297 total deaths.
“In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus as a result of prolonged social interaction in group settings, I am accepting the recommendation of the Winter COVID Task Force to require bars, restaurants, and clubs that sell alcohol for consumption in their establishment to close at 11 p.m.,” Hutchinson said in the press release. “This is a balanced approach that is limited and targeted as we work to reduce new COVID cases in our state.”
The order was issued by Arkansas Secretary of Health José Romero, following a recommendation by members of the Winter COVID-19 Task Force. The task force is made up of 19 physicians, health officials and executives to aid him as the state combats the challenges of the pandemic.
Those in violation of Thursday’s order or any ADH directives during the public health emergency can receive a fine between $100 to $500, imprisonment for up to a month, or both.