Bars in Arkansas can begin to reopen this month after being closed for nearly two months due to COVID-19.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson gave the news, as expected, during his daily coronavirus briefing.
Hutchinson said bars located inside restaurants can open on Tuesday, May 19. Freestanding bars with no attached restaurants can open one week later on Tuesday, May 26.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said specific guidelines will soon be announced for bars in terms of limitations and social distancing requirements.
He said the directive will include language similar to guidelines for restaurants.
Smith said the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas reached 4,813 on Monday, which is an increase of 54 since Sunday. Of the new cases, one is from a correctional facility and 53 are from the general community.
There are 1,068 active cases, of which 378 are inside correctional facilities, 99 are in nursing homes, and 591 are in the community.
Seventy-seven people are currently hospitalized with the illness, which is an increase of 12 since yesterday. Smith said 12 patients are on a ventilator, which is unchanged overnight.
There were two additional deaths since Sunday, bringing the toll to 100.
There are 49 nursing homes across the state with active cases, including 289 residents who have tested positive and 172 workers.
There were no new cases from the Cummins Unit prison. Nine prisoners are hospitalized from Cummins and one is on a ventilator. There are a total of seven deaths from inside Cummins.
From the federal correctional facility in Forrest City, there have been 332 cases, including 16 staff members.
Smith said there were 55 recovering overnight, bringing the total to 3,645 people who have recovered from the illness since the outbreak began.