Governor Hutchinson announces restrictions will be lifted on gyms, fitness centers and indoor athletic facilities on May 4

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday restrictions will be lifted on gyms, fitness centers and indoor athletic facilities on Monday, May 4.

There will be some limits and physical distancing requirements.

People who have recently traveled from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Orleans and overseas will not be able to enter.

People who have fever, symptoms or recent contact with a COVID-19 patient will not be allowed to enter either.

People who also have a compromised immune system or chronic disease will also not be allowed to enter for the time being.

Staff members will have to their temperature checked.

Staff and patrons will be required to wear a mask or other face covering, except when they are exercising.

Pools, spas, showers and saunas will not be allowed to open on May 4.

Hand sanitizer needs to be available and equipment will need to be sanitized after each use.

People will need to maintain a distance of 12 feet while working out and during training sessions and classes.

Personal contact will also not be allowed.

Kelly Eichler, an owner of the Little Rock Athletic Club, said CEO and part-owner Frank Lawrence created a recovery readiness and member experience guideline that they would be willing to share with other facilites. According to Eichler, the athletic club will have a touchless experience, maintain social distancing and sanitization. Eichler also said she envisions posting health guards that will enable clients to have necessary wipes and chemicals to wipe down equipment and help maintain social distancing.

The governor also said Thursday that the state is not ready to engage in summer athletics or team sports, and state officials will take another look in mid to late May.

The governor also announced Thursday that there were 3,255 cases of the coronavirus in the state.

Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, said of the total number of cases, 1,888 are active cases.

State officials said Thursday there are 95 people in the hospital due to the coronavirus. This in an increase of two from Wednesday.

Twenty-three people are on ventilators due to the virus, an increase of five from Wednesday.

State officials say two people died due to complications of the coronavirus in Arkansas, bringing the death toll to 61.

According to Dr. Smith, 1,305 people have recovered from the virus, which is an increase of 56 from Wednesday.

Dr. Smith announced Thursday there were no new cases of the virus at the Cummins Unit. Thirteen inmates remained hospitalized and three are on a ventilator due to the virus.

Dr. Smith said there were 14 additional cases in the Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City, bringing the total to 101.

State officials said there were 2,520 tests performed yesterday with a 1.5 percent positivity rate for those cases. Governor Hutchinson said this was the largest single-day increase of tests so far. Dr. Smith said of the tests performed Wednesday, 2,079 were from commercial labs, 190 are from the Arkansas Department of Health labs and 251 were from UAMS.

Dr. Smith also announced the AEL Laboratories in Memphis has set aside 1,000 tests to Arkansas with a guarantee of a 24 to 30-hour turnaround time to Arkansas hospitals and practices to help with tests required before elective procedures.

The governor said Thursday the Ready for Business grant program was rolled out prematurely. The governor said the website went live before the legislative council could approve it. The governor said it was due to miscommunication. According to the governor, the website was up less than an hour and was taken down. In the time the site was up, over 2,300 businesses applied for over $36 million. The grant was $15 million. Of the businesses that applied, the governor said 92 percent had fewer than 50 employees and 59 percent had fewer than 10 employees. The governor said he will work with the legislature to see if there’s a way to increase funding and if qualifications need to be changed, and he believes the website would need to go back up again.

The governor said even though things would be opening up, it’s still important to wear face masks and maintain social distance.

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