Some businesses not easing up on COVID-19 restrictions after announcement

“We have seen the benefits of implementing the guidelines, and so I think for the safety of our members, we will continue to want to participate in those.”

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — After one of the most economically challenging years for businesses, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Friday morning that COVID-19 restrictions are now guidelines.

It puts more responsibility in the hands of businesses, and allows them to make their own decisions when it comes to safety at their establishments. 

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Many business owners THV11 talked to on Friday said just because the opportunity is there, it doesn’t mean they’ll take it.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s business as usual,” Daniel Bryant, owner of Hill Station, said. “Really the guidelines haven’t changed all that much.”

It’s not just restaurants like Hill Station that are affected by this. Gym owners like Phil Forrester said they won’t change much of what they’re doing either.

“We have seen the benefits of implementing the guidelines, and so I think for the safety of our members, we will continue to want to participate in those,” he said.

It’s the first step in the return to normalcy, which Bryant said he’s grateful for.

“I think he’s trying to draw some balance, which I appreciate,” he said. “I think we all want some common sense.”

The two owners are also grateful that it’s not another order.

“While I appreciate that it’s not a directive, I still think there’s going to be room for us to do the safe thing for our members,” Forrester said. “So I think we’re just going to have to wait and see.”

Even after seeing other businesses close due to the pandemic, Forrester said he’s not in a hurry to reopen immediately.

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“A month from now, maybe, especially if the numbers keep coming down,” he said. “My immediate reaction is ‘Okay, good. It means its obviously good for the community,’ but for us, we’re going to maintain our status.”