Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday that restaurants in Arkansas would be able to open their dining experience back up but don't expect to pack out your favorite restaurant for Mother's Day.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday that restaurants in Arkansas would be able to open their dining experience back up but don’t expect to pack out your favorite restaurant for Mother’s Day.

The restaurant lift will begin phase one of resuming dine-in operation on May 11 and restaurants will only be allowed to use 33% of the occupancy rate.

“I recognize that 33 percent is not enough to cover the overhead at some restaurants,” Hutchinson said. “We all recognize that, but that’s where we need to start at this particular time.”

This announcement comes as Hutchinson reported 3,192 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths, including a patient at JRMC on Wednesday morning.

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith reported 1,884 of those cases were active with 93 in the hospital and 18 on ventilators. No new cases were announced for the Cummins Unit but Smith did state 11 Cummins inmates were hospitalized due to the virus, with three on a ventilator.

Government official’s decision to re-open restaurant dining was based on data but Hutchinson explains that there will guidelines and a directive released that must be adhered by restaurants.

Those include:

Physical distancing between patrons and tables

No groups over 10 people

Face coverings for both staff and patrons (masked can be removed while eating)

Gloves for staff

Daily staff screenings

Senior hour encouraged

No self-service

Clean, disinfect tables, menus after each meal

Bars and entertainment within restaurants prohibited

Reservations encouraged

Face coverings

Gloves for staff

Daily staff screenings

Frequent handwashing

Pre-order when possible

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith stated that the gloves worn by staff must be replaced in-between each use or washed. Smith said it is not good to use one pair of gloves an entire shift.

“You can wash a gloved hand as you can a bare hand,” said Smith.

If the state is successful opening restaurants back up on May 11 in phase one, Hutchinson states that Arkansas can move to the next steps.

Phase two would increase capacity to 67 percent of the occupancy rate while maintaining a physical distance. The third phase would be returning to normal operations.

Hutchinson said restaurants will have to comply and that may mean removing chairs and tables to accommodate the appropriate space and purchasing PPE.

To help businesses out, Hutchinson announced the Arkansas Ready for Business grant program which would assist $100,000 to eligible businesses for their expenses to get them in compliance with the directive and guidelines.

The money would be used to purchase PPE (excluding N95 masks), cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and other services.

Applications will be posted at www.ArkansasEDC.com