WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - Following much of the Mid-South, Arkansas is now starting to release its phased approach to reopening the state. First, restaurants will be able to open on May 11.
With West Memphis, Arkansas just a stones-throw away from Shelby County, it may be going with another plan.
On Tuesday’s WMC Road to Reopen Town Hall, West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon showed solidarity with Shelby County, Tennessee.
“I’m gonna follow the plans of my big brother right across the bridge to make sure we’re part of the solution, not the problem,” he said.
While Shelby County does not have a reopen date yet, Arkansas is releasing its plan.
The first phase has restaurants opening with only a third of its occupancy.
“The next phases’ timeline will be based on data and how we’re doing,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “Phase two will increase the capacity and maintaining social distance. When we get to phase three, which we all expect we will, it will be returning to normal occupancy.”
“I’m going to do everything I can do to follow the governor’s direction because he is the leader of our state, but I’m definitely going to work with Shelby County, as well as Arkansas, and look at all the options and come up with a plan,” Mayor McClendon said.
Hutchinson said to reopen businesses must follow health guidelines like provide staff with PPE. To help fund that, the state is offering grants to businesses to help them reopen.
McClendon has reiterated to his community the unique standing of West Memphis. It sits next to Shelby County which has over 2,000 COVID-19 cases about a thousand less than the whole state of Arkansas.
“There is no other city in Arkansas that is walking distance from a metropolitan city like Memphis, Tennessee,” McClendon said.
For now, McClendon said May 11 may not be West Memphis’ date. A date won’t be set until he’s talked to as many business owners as he can.
He’ll also reevaluate the city curfew in place on Friday.
As for those business grants to buy things like PPEs, applications will soon be available.
In all, the state plans to give out $15 million in grants. Click here to find out more.