Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said the increase of coronavirus led to him to order that restaurants and bars provide only takeout, curbside and home delivery, beginning Friday.
The order will apply until further notice, but be reassessed every two weeks.
There’s an urgent need, he said. He said Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Health Director Nate Smith had provided authority to do this through OK of following CDC guidelines on limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
Scott said he was sensitive the order could lead to job loss. But the city is already impacted by the virus and we don’t know how it was contracted, he said. Limiting contact is the best way to stop it from spreading, he said.
The mayor said zoning restrictions would be waived so restaurants can use their spaces for otherwise non-permitted uses, such as a specialty market, so long as no more than 10 people are present at a time. He encouraged restaurants to use employees as carhops or delivery drivers so they don’t lose income. A different business license won’t be needed.
He urged people to support restaurants. “Get your food and go home. For now, this is our new normal. We have to do everything in our power to stop COVID-19.”
This follows a practice adopted in many other cities around the country. Fayetteville this week adopted an ordinance limiting occupancy in public spaces to 50 percent of fire code, a measure mainly applying to bars and restaurants, but didn’t specifically target the industry. Gov. Asa Hutchinson to date has been reluctant to order such a change statewide. He said yesterday it wouldn’t be fair to have a different standard in Little Rock and other cities.