Governor issues restrictions on who can stay at hotels, motels and vacation rentals

Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks Saturday at his daily COVID-19 briefing

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has issued a new executive order that aims to limit out-of-state travelers from visiting Arkansas during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The measure applies to commercial lodgings and short-term rentals, including hotels, motels and vacation rentals. It states that those businesses may only accept occupants from the following list of authorized guests:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • First responders
  • Law enforcement
  • State or federal employees on official business
  • National Guard members on active duty
  • Airline crew members
  • Patients of hospitals and their families
  • Journalists
  • Persons unable to return to their home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
  • Arkansas citizens unable to return to their home due to exigent circumstances such as fire, flood, tornado, or other disasters
  • Persons in need of shelter due to domestic violence or homelessness
  • Employees of hotels, motels, or other service providers/contractors of a hotel or motel
  • Persons away from their home due to work or work-related travel

In other words, no recreational travelers from out of state.

“We believe this will have some significant effect to reduce the travel that we’ve already discouraged,” Hutchinson said during his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Saturday.

Hutchinson said his office has been alerted to an increasing amount of travelers from coronavirus “hot spot” areas around the country, and the new measure is in direct response to those occurrences.

State COVID-19 case updates

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said the number of positive COVID-19 cases had reached 743 as of Saturday afternoon. That’s an increase of 39 cases since Friday. Smith said there are now 72 patients hospitalized, up one from 71 this time yesterday.

Smith said over 1,000 test reports were submitted in the past 24 hours, which is the most in a single day since the outbreak began.

Of the 743 cases, 20 are children, 49 are age 18-24, 210 are age 25-44, 263 are age 45-64, and 201 are 65 years or older.

Smith said the positive cases include 12 pregnant women, 106 healthcare workers and 61 nursing home residents.

Of those hospitalized, 23 are on ventilators, which is a decrease of three people since yesterday.

There were two additional deaths since Friday, bringing the total to 14. Of those who have died, 10 were age 65 or older, and four were between the ages of 19 and 64.

Overall, 79 patients have recovered since first being tested positive.