JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The citywide, nighttime curfew for the city of Jonesboro is set to start Friday evening, with Jonesboro city and Craighead County officials saying that the curfew was needed to limit the impact of COVID-19.
During the Friday afternoon press conference, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day, Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott and City Medical Director Dr. Shane Speights each spoke about the curfew and the COVID-19 issue.
Both Perrin and Speights stressed the need for the curfew, which runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night for no more than 120 days.
Perrin also presented letters of support from NEA Baptist and St. Bernards on the idea, while Speights said healthcare officials are working to flatten the curve and that the increased cases have seen a dramatic shift on how healthcare workers are doing their jobs.
Officials said the curfew is being done as a precaution and to protect first responders.
Elliott said his department has been stretched thin, in part due to the March 28 tornado; and mentioned a recent late night gathering at Craighead Forest Park as a reason.
In a media release Thursday, Perrin issued the Declaration of Local Emergency takes effect at 10 p.m. Friday, April 10.
Officials said the curfew will be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night for no more than 120 days.
The curfew will be reviewed by the Jonesboro City Council at its April 21 meeting, Perrin said in the release. On Friday, Perrin said the curfew will also be reviewed every two weeks by the council and there could be tweaks and amendments to the curfew.
Perrin was also asked about the possibility of a juvenile daytime curfew in the city. He said that right now, nothing was off the table.
Perrin said Thursday he was hopeful that the curfew would not be needed for the 120-day period.
The mayor also told Region 8 News that safety was the main reason behind the decision.
“No one wants their lives infringed upon, but I will always err on the side of saving lives even if it means we have to be inconvenienced for a short time," Perrin said.
Perrin said officials received approval from Gov. Asa Hutchinson on the issue, citing several concerns including protecting police and first responders.
In the media release, Perrin said the idea is more in line with the Governor’s idea of a targeted approach while not creating major disruptions, especially dealing with commerce.
“Cities around Arkansas and the nation are seeing success with nighttime curfews. Every hour people are not interacting in person decreases the chances of a spike that could overload our healthcare systems,” Perrin said.
Perrin also spoke with City Medical Director Dr. Shane Speights and Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe on the issue.
Speights said the area has seen increases in cases, with officials looking for ways to reduce the number.
“It is our duty to continue to look for ways to reduce the impact of this disease on our local healthcare workers, hospitals and the general public. Essentially, our community’s duty is to keep working to flatten the curve,” Speights said, noting the peak of cases in Jonesboro is not expected for about a month or so.
However, the activities not impacted by the curfew include travel to and from work, for medical reasons or to contact emergency services like police, firefighters or ambulance, or traveling beyond the city limits.
Region 8 News will have more details as they become available.