Arkansas governor limits visitors from outside state amid COVID-19 pandemic

Governor Hutchinson says the state has seen a 40 percent reduction in travel since the emergency. (KATV photo)

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (KATV) -- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a new executive order Saturday restricting the amount of out-of-state travelers that can come into the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The order directs commercial lodges and short term rentals including hotels, motels and vacation rentals to only house authorized guests.

Authorized guests include:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • First responders
  • Law enforcement
  • State or federal employees on business
  • Airline crew members
  • National Guard members on active duty
  • Patients of hospitals and their families
  • Journalists
  • Persons unable to return to their home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
  • Arkansas citizens unable to return to their home due to exigent circumstances or other disaster
  • People in need of shelter due to domestic violence or homelessness
  • Employees of hotels, motels or other service providers/contractors of a hotel
  • Persons away from their home due to work or work-related travel
  • The governor says out of state travelers are coming into Arkansas and going to parks or utilizing other recreational services.

Hutchinson says the order aims at restricting that type of travel during the coronavirus outbreak.

"That’s been a challenge for us, as we have seen people leave New Orleans or from another hot spot and they see the opportunity to come to Arkansas," Hutchinson said. "Whether they go to a park or another recreational purposes, we don’t want that to happen."

KATV reached out to around a dozen hotels in Little Rock after this order was announced.

Some managers say they closed their doors weeks ago, while others say the situation is unfortunate but they understand the importance of complying with the order.

Hutchinson says the state has seen a 40 percent reduction in travel since the emergency.

The governor also says he is monitoring state parks for traffic and they will be closed if needed.

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