Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday he’s lifted the ban on out-of-state recreational travelers except for those visiting from COVID-19 hotspot areas.
Travel to Arkansas from other states has been prohibited since April 4 when the governor outlined a series of restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus.
The current list of hotspots includes New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and Connecticut, but the secretary of health has the authority to modify that list based on recommendations by the CDC and other state officials.
He said anyone returning home to Arkansas from a hotspot should first self quarantine for 14 days.
The goal, Hutchinson said, is to provide some relief to the hospitality industry which has suffered since the ban went into effect.
The governor shared a graphic from CNN which showed Arkansas as one of only 15 states across the country that has seen a decline in positive COVID-19 tests over the past 14 days. The surrounding states were all shown as either having an increase in cases or not much change over the last two weeks. Florida was the only other southern state in the decreasing category.
Hutchinson said while the state is on the right trajectory, he’s not comfortable allowing his declared state of emergency to expire on May 21. Instead, he signed a proclamation today that will extend his emergency powers and previously announced directives for an additional 45 days.
The governor said state revenues are down 28.3 percent from this time last year, but it’s not as bad as previously expected.
“While our economy has taken a hit, it has not taken the same nosedive that we have seen in some other states,” said Hutchinson.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said a change is coming this week to rules for swimming pools. Smith said gyms will soon be allowed to open lap lanes in pools for people to exercise. He said guidance for opening recreational pools is coming later this week as well.
The number of positive cases in Arkansas reached 3,496 on Tuesday, which is an increase of 38 since Monday. There were two additional deaths, bringing the toll to 83.