Gov. Hutchinson against restricting restaurant capacity after White House Coronavirus Task Force report

Limiting gatherings, business grants and school modifications discussed in weekly address
Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 3:26 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero addressed the White House Coronavirus Task Force report Tuesday afternoon during his weekly address.

The report stated 1,000 more Arkansans will die between now and Christmas if we don’t break the trend.

The governor was asked if he would pause athletics or games after this report came out, but he said he wants to see if schools can do anything better to reduce the risk.

He doesn’t plan on canceling athletics because he said that would be “terrible" for the health of the young people.

The task force recommended the state limit restaurant indoor capacity to less than 25 percent but the governor said he was against that.

“If you put the restrictions back down to 1/3, you will be shutting down businesses because they are already hanging on by a thread," Gov. Hutchinson said.

He added this would lead to people being unemployed and the state doesn’t have any additional funding to help if business shut down.

The graphs this week shows hospitalizations are up in Arkansas and weekly new cases are also increasing dramatically.

The new data also shows that Northeast Arkansas continues to lead the state in growth rate percentage.

Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero talked about the dangers that comes with having Thanksgiving gatherings with your older family members including those in nursing home facilities.

While he compared the virus to a “boulder rolling down a hill," he stressed again for people to wash their hands, wear masks and maintain social distance.

Dr. Romero added there’s no specific origin to the spread of COVID-19 and that small gatherings among families are contributing to the spread.

Business Interruption Grants (BIG) will be available to businesses across the state affected by the pandemic.

The application period is underway and lasts until Nov. 25

There is more information available at you can also call the BIG Resource Center at 888-722-1554 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

State officials encourage you to apply if you are a business.

The governor added that he will speak with President-Elect Joe Biden on Thursday as his transition team prepares for Jan. 20. This meeting will help his administration learn what Arkansas is doing to fight the pandemic.

Education Secretary Johnny Key said 46 schools went to remote learning last week and this week they had 16 additional modifications to learning.

Key called this trend expected based on the number of community cases and added that schools are doing an excellent job.

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