Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott today announced that he is instructing restaurants within Little Rock to close their dining rooms beginning this Friday, March 20th.
The move comes after many establishments in the city have already closed their dine-in options throughout the week as the numbers from the COVID-19 virus continue to grow. Scott hinted at interest earlier in the week to close Little Rock restaurants but needed authorization from Governor Hutchinson to do so, which he was granted.
“This decision did not come lightly,” Mayor Scott said in his daily update. “In fact it was heavily discussed among our team and restaurant owners. I am extremely sensitive to the fact that this will lead to job loss in our community.”
To help restaurants find revenue during this time the city will temporarily waive zoning restrictions to allow restaurants to be more flexible with how they use their space. There has been a desire within the restaurant community to use the dining room spaces as specialty grocery stores, even providing some prepared food products, to help with losses of revenue.
Along with the dine-in closure, Scott mandated a maximum occupancy of 10 people to meet the new CDC guidelines.
“Limiting social contact through social distancing is the best way to stop the virus from spreading,” Scott explained. “We are seeing cities around the country issuing the same order because we have to do everything within our power to stop COVID-19”
He went on to encourage restaurants to use wait staff as carhops and delivery drivers to help keep them employed during the crisis. He stated that restaurants would not need a separate business license to conduct deliveries.