Arkansas businesses licensed to sell and allow consumption of alcohol on their premises must close by 11 p.m., Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday.
The directive goes into effect on Friday, Nov. 20 and will remain in place through Jan. 3, 2021. It covers restaurants, bars, and private clubs with “on-premise” permits.
The announcement came just one day after 270 doctors from around the state asked Hutchinson to adopt more restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Other states are also enacting new restrictions this week as cases soar across the country.
A similar 11 p.m. curfew went into effect today in Oklahoma, while Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced yesterday that all restaurants and bars must close all indoor services.
Hutchinson said the directive was a recommendation from his recently formed Winter COVID Task Force, which first met on Monday. The group is tasked with investigating, advising and making recommendations to the governor on matters related to the virus.
“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. “This is a balanced approach that is limited and targeted as we work to reduce new COVID cases in our state.”
The governor said more news is on the way tomorrow.
“I will be addressing the high number of new cases in a Friday news conference,” he said. “Today we implemented the first recommendation of the COVID-19 Winter Task Force, and I will address hospital capacity tomorrow.”
The number of new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 2,238 Thursday, bringing the statewide cumulative case count to 139,855.
Hospitalizations were down two to 899, and patients on a ventilator were up three to 146. There were 22 additional deaths, bringing the toll to 2,297. There are currently 16,998 active cases and 120,545 people who are considered to have recovered from the illness.
The top counties for new cases announced Thursday were Pulaski (207), Washington (131), Sebastian (122), Benton (110) and Craighead (102).