Gov. to allow bar and restaurant curfew to expire as numbers drop

FULL BRIEFING 2/2/21: Gov. Hutchinson and state officials weekly COVID update for Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Jose R. Romero update the public on the state’s response to the coronavirus, including the latest cases of COVID-19 and deaths.

Hutchinson announced at the beginning of the press conference, that the state’s revenue report continues to show improvement of the economy, as daily positive COVID numbers continue to decrease.

On Feb. 3, Hutchinson said he will allow the 11 p.m. curfew for bars to expire.

One Region 8 restaurant and bar spoke to us about how the expired curfew will help them.

“We’re thankful for sure that the cases are being dropped enough that we’re allowed to open up and extend our hours,” JTown’s Grill Bar Manager Kaylee Lapiro said.

The business works to be as safe as possible and look forward to the community to enjoy JTown’s “like they used to be able to.”

“With the curfew, we had to limit the amount of time people stayed at the table. It really hindered us to make the most money possible. Now that our curfew has been lifted, we don’t have to have that restriction or feel like we’re rushed and get everybody out.”

They’ve always closed around 11 p.m. but this does allow more flexibility when crowds want to stay later. Not only would this boost business, but boost employee’s paychecks.

Jonesboro Brickhouse Bar and Grill had this response on the curfew being lifted.

It’s extremely welcome news to myself and the staff! The pandemic has resulted in huge financial losses for the service industry across the country and Brickhouse is no exception. We as owners and staff have dutifully abided by all restrictions and curfews, standing with the Governor’s best intentions of limiting the spread of COVID by any means necessary - we are extremely pleased to be back open with normal hours of operation now that the COVID numbers have dropped (Craighead county 55% decline). Today’s announcement is a game-changer for my staff in terms of being able to have the means to financially support themselves and their families - I cannot say enough positive things about my staff, they are simply the best of the best in terms of individuals and service industry professionals, they deserve the opportunity to make a good living.
Dan Johnson, Owner of Brickhouse Bar and Grill

Hutchinson learned Tuesday morning that Arkansas would receive an additional 5% of vaccine supplies by the end of this week. Walmart will receive 10k doses each week beginning Feb. 11. This is over and above the state allocation of the vaccine.

Dr. Jose R. Romero says, “We’re going in the right direction” regarding cases and hospitalizations. “It’s not a time to back off,” he says of wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping social distance.

Dr. Romero cites three factors for pushing down hospitalizations, the public taking it seriously, the use of monoclonal antibodies for prevention and treatment, and the beginning of immunizations.

Hutchinson said the state’s 7-day rolling average of positivity is getting back down closer to the 10% mark. “We’re not there yet, but this is encouraging,” Hutchinson said.

Romero said he doesn’t know if the new variants are in Arkansas, but he suspects they are, “we just haven’t found them yet,” he said.

Romero encourages everyone to take the vaccine when it’s offered. “It’s safe. It’s been studied. They are effective,” he said.

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