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James L. White/Staff

Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson (left) addresses the Harrison Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission meeting Thursday morning.

When the Harrison City Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission met Thursday morning, officials discussed the local economic recovery, including restaurants for dine-in service.

Mayor Jerry Jackson said that when some restaurants re-opened under the state directive that people going in for a meal wear masks until they get their drinks or food, they started to get pushback immediately.

He said that patrons were refusing to comply with that directive and some restaurants were just “throwing up their hands” because they can’t enforce the face mask rule.

He said it could be a directive Gov. Asa Hutchinson might regret making.

“We wish he wouldn’t have made it because it’s not being enforced by either the restaurants, and we’re not going to enforce it,” Jackson said.

Convention and Visitors Bureau director Matt Bell said he had been to four different restaurants since dining rooms were allowed to re-open and only one had been adamant about enforcing the rule regarding masks.

“And you saw people walking out as a result,” Bell said.

But at a press briefing Thursday afternoon, Hutchinson urged Arkansans to continue following all directives as the economic recovery begins to slowly take place.

With the announcement that 42% of the 261 new positive cases reported Thursday were in Benton and Washington counties, Hutchinson disagreed with a suggestion that more onerous regulations should be placed on two counties in the state as a regional approach to virus management.

“Actually, I think the way we’ve approached it has demonstrated to be successful and important. It shows that, for example, in some areas of the state that they might have a low case load, it’s important to keep the statewide restrictions and guidelines in place and not make them exempt because they could be the next place that we might have a wave or an outbreak. And so, we have to remain vigilant across the state and I think it’s been important to have those statewide guidelines that we put into place.

“We’re in Phase One, we’ve opened up some of the economy. For example, restaurants. It’s one-third capacity. There’s limitations in place. We’re not going to go back, but we want people to follow those guidelines, make sure that they do everything they can to avoid the spread and we can get through this.”

(1) comment


It's an Arkansas Department of Health Directive - Governor Hutchinson clarified it in his daily news conference. Not keeping a health directive opens up liabilities for restaurant owner/manager. Particularly if anyone in attendance gets coronavirus. "Patrons must wear a face covering upon entrance and while in the restaurant until the food or drink is served."

Directive on Resuming Restaurant Dine-in Operations

The Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Governor, has sole authority over all instances of

quarantine, isolation, and restrictions on commerce and travel throughout Arkansas, as necessary and

appropriate to control disease in the state of Arkansas as authorized by Ark. Code Ann. §20-7-109--

110. Based on available scientific evidence, it is necessary and appropriate to take further action to

ensure that COVID-19 remains controlled and that residents and visitors in Arkansas remain safe.

On March 20, 2020,the Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Governor, issued a directive

that food establishment and restaurant dine-in operations in the state would cease. This

directive provides guidance on resumption of dine in services of food establishments and

restaurants through a phased approach.

Phase 1

 Dine-in service may resume; however, seating shall be limited up to 33% of total seating

capacity. This includes indoor and outdoor dining areas.

 Seating shall be adjusted to maintain 10-foot physical distancing between tables so occupied

seats are six feet from seats at adjacent tables.

 Reservations should be encouraged when practical. If reservations are not made,

physical distancing must be maintained when customers are waiting to be seated.

 All staff who come in contact with patrons must wear a face mask that completely

covers their nose and mouth. Staff in the back are encouraged to wear a facemask.

 Gloves used during food preparation should be worn in accordance with the Rules

Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments. Glove use by waitstaff and others who do

not directly contact food with their hands is optional.

 Patrons must wear a face covering upon entrance and while in the restaurant until the food or drink is served.

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