A timeline has been set for announcing major decisions that will impact Arkansas businesses and industries.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson unveiled a new schedule for when decisions on reopening multiple business sector will be announced. Starting April 29, state officials will begin announcing if certain businesses can reopen on May 4.
The industries include the restaurant industry, gyms, beauty salons and barber shops, places of worship, and larger venues.
“We want to set a timeline for decision announcements leading up to May 4,” Hutchinson said. “The below decision announcements will indicate whether a May 4 opening will be allowed and any of the applicable restrictive guidelines.”
The schedule for the announcements:
- April 29 – Announcement on restaurant decision
- April 30 – Announcement on gym decision
- May 1 – Announcement on beauty salon and barber shop decision
- May 4 – Announcement on places of worship and larger venues
Hutchinson said that the announcements will determine whether these industries will be allowed to open on May 4 with public health-oriented restrictive guidelines. “It doesn’t say whether that decision will be yes or no, but it says we will make a decision at that time and it will be applicable to May 4,” he said.
State officials have set May 4 as the target date for beginning the reopening of Arkansas’ economy under President Donald Trump’s “Open Up America Again” plan. Before the reopening can take place, states must demonstrate a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and COVID-like symptoms within a 14-day period, among other criteria.
In an April 17 press conference, Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith said that Arkansas was making progress toward the criteria that would allow the state to reopening.
Officials have come under pressure to open specific industries, particularly the beauty industry. A Change.org petition addressed to Hutchinson has requested that hair and beauty salons be permitted to have a “soft” opening on April 27. As of Wednesday afternoon, that petition has garnered 22,650 electronic signatures.
In regards to the beauty salon reopening, Hutchinson said that the decision will be announced in May. “We won’t be in a position to make that announcement until May 1,” he said.
According to Hutchinson, the timeline is designed to be a “sequential” process that will allow officials to measure the state’s progress in the pandemic and provide increased public awareness on decision-making.
“We’re taking it very cautiously, but at the same time, we want to give those decision points that will be coming up in the near future and coming weeks,” Hutchinson said.