With the push for social distancing becoming more and more important in stopping the spread of coronavirus, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced at a daily press briefing April 7 that city and county officials will have more power to try to control the spread of the virus.
The proclamation will be an amendment to Hutchinson’s original executive order declaring Arkansas to be a disaster area and gives local officials more leniency in taking local action to prevent the spread of the virus.
The amendment mentions “reasonable city or county curfews and closures of city or county owned parks and facilities” but declares that curfews should not prevent people from traveling to or from work, acquiring necessary services or goods such as food, walking their pets or getting exercise outside.
Little Rock, Saline County and Benton County are among those that have issued curfews.
At the press briefing, Arkansas State Police director Col. Bill Bryant said ASP plans to work with local governments to enforce any state or local health directives.
“This goes for every police department and sheriff’s department in the state — if you need assistance from the Arkansas State Police, we are there. Whatever tool we have in our toolbox, we are prepared to assist,” Bryant said. “Our major goal is to protect the citizens of Arkansas. We protect and serve.”
In a KNWA article, Fayetteville Police Department’s Sgt. Tony Murphy said officers are beginning to patrol trails and parks, breaking up large groups of people.
“If it becomes a problem and something we’re having to deal with, and it’s obvious they’re not adhering to these directives that’ve been set to keep everyone safe, then we’ll have to up our enforcement of those directives,” Murphy told KNWA.
He also said most people are policing themselves well and any friendly warnings from officers have been met with a positive response.
Hutchinson’s executive order states that social distancing guidelines and the closure of nonessential businesses are enforceable by law, and anyone convicted of violating the orders can face fines of between $100 and $500 or one month in jail.
The full order can be read at governor.arkansas.gov/our-office/executive-orders.
READ MORE: Hutchinson – Hotels and Motels Directed to Refuse Service to Out-of-State Recreational Travelers
Image courtesy of Little Rock Police Department