Arkansas revises virus limits on venues including arenas

May 9, 2020 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Saturday he’ll allow large venues such as arenas and stadiums to fill to one-third capacity, with approval, in a revision of restrictions he announced earlier this week because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hutchinson previously said he expected some adjustments to the restrictions on large venues to address “some inequity” on the capacity limits between casinos and other indoor venues.

On Monday, Hutchinson said venues such as arenas, stadiums, movie theaters and bowling alleys had to limit audiences to 50 or fewer people when they reopened on May 18. Then, on Thursday, he said he would allow the state’s three casinos to reopen on May 18 at one-third of their capacity.


On Saturday, Hutchinson and Dr. Nathaniel Smith, the state’s health secretary, said that if one-third capacity is more than 50 people for large indoor and outdoor venues, the venue must submit a plan to be approved by the Arkansas Department of Health. The venues can begin opening to that capacity on May 18.

One Arkansas venue has been promoting a concert drawing more than 200 people next week, despite restrictions placed on large gatherings. Singer Travis McCready is scheduled to play at TempleLive in Fort Smith on May 15, three days before such venues are allowed to open.

Arkansas did not issue a stay-at-home order but had imposed other limits on businesses and banned most large gatherings. There’s no capacity limit for churches and other places of worship, which the state never closed because of the virus.

Hutchinson said Saturday that the state had 237 new cases of the virus, making the state’s total 3,984. The number is likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

Two more people died of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total number of deaths to 90.

Smith said that of the 237 new cases, 173 were from testing being done at the federal prison in Forrest City.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.