Industry leaders and state officials have started the process of developing recommendations for reopening the state economy.
On April 18, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force, which is tasked with developing guidelines for industries and businesses to reopen while being in compliance with public health standards. Hutchinson appointed a total of 27 members to the committee with Steuart Walton serving as the chair.
Walton spoke at Hutchinson’ daily COVID-19 update to provide an update on the task force’s first meeting. The task force has create three committees, which will be headed by three members of Hutchinson’s administration.
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and TourismSecretary Stacy Hurst will head the committee on tourism, community and healthcare. Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Preston will oversee the committee on commerce, and Department of Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward will lead the committee on agriculture, grocery and education.
According to Walton, the task force will be developing “tactical” recommendations for state officials as they move towards reopening the economy. Hutchinson previously announced his intention to begin reopening the economy on May 4 under President Donald Trump’s “Open Up America Again” plan.
“Informed by Dr. Smith and the work of the Department of Health, the task force is working hard to develop an initial set of recommendations for Arkansas by May 4, which…is the date that the governor has set to begin reopening [the state’s economy],” Walton said.
Walton said that he expects the task force to deliver an interim report by the end of May and a final report by the end of June.
In addition, the task force will be developing recommendations for industries to use as they gear up for the reopening process. The task force will reportedly be working in consultation with the Governor’s COVID-19 Testing Advisory Group, which was established to provide public health strategy after the state reached the peak of COVID-19.
“The committee is really also going to be focused a strategic set of recommendations for businesses and industry across Arkansas that will help us thrive in the recovery and far in the future,” Walton said.