JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, Governor Asa Hutchinson says he will not shut down businesses and schools.
In an interview Friday with Roby Brock, editor of Talk Business & Politics, the governor said “closing restaurants and other businesses would not be fair to owners who have followed state health directives,” our content partner KATV-TV reported.
“It is just as wrong as can be for the government to come in and say ‘you’ve got to shut down again’ -- even though you’re doing everything right and you’re not having any cases come out of there -- because there’s a lot of pressure that we ought to shut down businesses,” Hutchinson said. “That is just not what we’re going to do.”
On Thursday, Nov. 19, Hutchinson did order businesses that serve alcohol—including bars, private clubs, and restaurants—to close at 11 p.m.
The governor also said he would not order schools to pivot to online-only learning; however, he did say it would remain an option for schools.
“If you have the schools that go all virtual, what’s going to happen to the teenagers? What’s going to happen to the young people? Are they going to sit at home all day long? I doubt it,” he said.
Hutchinson is expected to address hospital capacity during a news conference Friday at 2:30 p.m.
He told Brock that a panel of physicians, healthcare executives, and elected officials are “looking to improve coordination between hospitals across the state to manage the rising number of virus patients.” They are also examining how to move patients out of hospitals and into short-term care centers.
When asked about a statewide mask mandate suggested by hundreds of physicians around the state, Hutchinson said that enforcing such a mandate was “not something within my capacity.” Instead, he said it is up to local law enforcement.