Gov Asa. Hutchinson announced Wednesday that in-person dining in restaurants can resume in Arkansas May 14. 

Before that is allowed, however, restaurants will have to require face masks for employees and customers. They will also have to space seating and tables at least 10 feet apart. The restaurant will have to limit business to 33 percent of its normal seating capacity, according to new rules promulgated in advance of the reopening.

The three-phase plan will begin with the May 14 limited opening, and dining establishments will be allowed to increase to 66 percent capacity when Arkansas Secretary of Health Nate Smith, “determines epidemiological data are sufficient.”

During the first phase:

-Customers will have to wear masks covering their mouths and noses when they enter the business and will be required to wear them until they receive food or drinks.

-Staff that interacts with the public will have to wear masks at all times. They will also have to wear gloves that will be changed between each customer or task.

-No group of 10 or more will be allowed to sit at a table.

-Anyone working at the business will have to submit to a daily screening, including for cough, sore throat, fever or shortness of breath. Anyone who has those “shall be immediately excluded from the facility. Restaurants are also required to post signs warning potential customers that if they have such symptoms they cannot enter.

-Bars will remain closed, including restaurant bars. Salad bars and other self-serve options will not be allowed.

The third phase will be a return to normal operations at full capacity.

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