JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - For the first time in weeks, Arkansas restaurants opened their doors Monday to dine-in customers. However, patrons can expect a few significant changes.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing on April 29, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced restaurants could reopen for “limited” dine-in seating as long as they practiced social distancing and took strict health precautions.
What’s more, restaurants can only serve 33% of their maximum occupancy. Groups exceeding 10 people are not permitted.
Yesdog Grill in downtown Jonesboro was among those restaurants reopening their doors.
Owner Lisa Godsey said the restrictions are intended to ensure the safety of both the customers and the employees.
In addition to serving pizzas and burnt ends, the restaurant is providing masks to customers who don’t have one.
It’s just another way, she says, of taking care of their patrons, both in her restaurant and at home.
“We’re trying to take care of people when they come out. Keep them safe, keep us safe,” Godsey said. “The people who don’t want to [come inside] that still want to order from us and get our awesome food, we’re still doing curbside and delivery to take care of them.”
Godsey encourages customers to make reservations, not only for her restaurant but for others in the area, to lighten the load on businesses.
In a statement Monday, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin urged restaurant owners to post “masks required” signs at their doors.
“If we as patrons do things right, restaurants that are dependent on our business will be able to open to 50 percent capacity in the near future, and then hopefully 100 percent, as the governor sees fit,” he said. “This is a crucial guideline because we want to get better, not malinger, while fighting COVID-19.”
Admitting that the economy is crucial, Perrin said safety should not be compromised.
“With a little respect for one another, we can do better than several states where unmasked patrons have created problems at restaurants,” Perrin said.
Perrin also added that he is concerned for the safety of Jonesboro citizens and he doesn’t want to see the number of COVID-19 cases to spike. His message to everyone in Region 8 is to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
“If [the curve] goes back up, then we’re going to have to do something to lower that number,” Perrin said. “That means that we’re going to have to pull back what we’ve already opened up and I don’t want that to happen.”
To report patrons or staff not in compliance with the state’s guidelines, call the ADH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-803-7847.