LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A big announcement was made today as we anticipated the Governor re-opening restaurants in some capacity and they will be allowed to resume dine-in operations come May 11 under certain guidelines.
Capacity will run at 1/3 of the maximum. Tables must be separated at least 6-feet apart and no groups larger than 10 will be allowed.
Also, patrons and staff will be required to wear masks, and staff will also wear gloves. There will also be daily staff screenings.
Obviously regular hygiene regulations are required as well.
Central Arkansas restauranteur Jim Keet owns over a dozen restaurants in the Little Rock area and he’s felt the pinch. He says his establishments are going to go above and beyond to make sure people are comfortable with their operation and that they are safe in his restaurants.
“We have our procedures down. Everything from sanitation too, which we’ve always been a leader in anyhow, we’ve always been very fastidious about that anyhow and we even added additional steps so we feel good about how we’re doing but we’re going to get better every day,” said Keet.
Now the obvious question pops up about bad apples that might try to get away with having more people in their establishment or aren’t putting into practice those social distancing guidelines. Dr. Nate Smith from the Arkansas Department of Health addressed that concern.
“For the restaurants, it’ll be under the same regulatory framework that we currently have. All of our restaurants are licensed. There are regular inspections and there’s also complaint-driven inspections if we get a complaint that a facility is not following the rules we will go and investigate that”, said Smith.
The state is also creating the Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program to cover expenses for personal protection equipment, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and services, and other one-time expenses. The state has set aside $15 Million for those grants.