A new citywide curfew goes into effect in Little Rock at 9 p.m. today, the latest in a series of mandates Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has issued to fight the spread of covid-19.
The new curfew hours are 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., an extension of the midnight to 5 a.m. curfew that went into effect March 18. The curfew is to remain in place until further notice. The city will continue to evaluate the measure every two weeks.
"We need the public, especially young adults and our youth, to take the health crisis seriously. This is a serious matter for all residents of the city of Little Rock," Scott said. "The virus is highly contagious and does not discriminate. Even if you contract covid-19 and recover quickly, that may not be the case for someone else you have encountered."
Little Rock police will enforce the curfew with citations, which hold fines that can range from $150 to $185.
The purpose of the curfew is to discourage people from gathering, Scott said. People traveling to and from work will not be cited.
"So if you are headed to work or headed home from work, you will be allowed to travel during the curfew hours," Scott said. "If you are hanging out in a group, we are going to ask you to please go home."
The city will continue to enforce its already-on-the-books curfew for minors. Those hours are from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., when a child would normally be in school.
The curfew for minors also will be enforced with citations until April 17, after which schools in Arkansas are scheduled to reopen. Exceptions will be made for minors who are with an adult, who have work permits and are traveling to or from work, and who are getting groceries for a senior citizen.
Citations for minors violating curfew will be given to parents.
"This curfew helps us because our plan is to deliver instruction," said Mike Poore, Little Rock school superintendent, referring to the online curriculum that students will take part in after spring break on Monday.
Additionally, the city has debuted an online giving platform and will set up a physical donation center. People can donate to fund the city's meals program for students, as well as personal protective equipment for medical workers.
Medical professionals or companies that might have stockpiles are encouraged to donate personal protective equipment, Scott said.
The physical donation site will be at the city's emergency operations center, 7000 Murray St. Anyone interested in donating can email email@example.com for more information. A link to the city's donation platform can be found at littlerock.gov/covid19.
"We know we care, so let's show up for the most vulnerable in our community," Scott said.
On the same day Scott extended the citywide curfew, Little Rock city directors took steps to limit contact during their meetings.
Over the course of two special meetings Wednesday, the Board of Directors approved an ordinance that will allow the directors to be considered present for discussion and voting purposes while attending a meeting by electronic means.
When first presenting the ordinance to city directors last week, City Manager Bruce Moore said the city will still encourage people to send in questions and comments, as it did when it urged people to watch the meeting online last week, but may also figure out a way for people to call in live.
The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved a similar ordinance last week that will allow board members to be considered present while participating through electronic means.
The ordinance states that electronic participation is permitted provided that the mayor, city administrator and city clerk are physically present at the place where the meeting is being held.
The Fort Smith ordinance does not prohibit public comments or actual attendance by the public at the meeting. Anyone attending the meeting will be screened for covid-19 symptoms, and the room will be set up to adhere to social-distancing recommendations.
Information for this article was contributed by Thomas Saccente of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Metro on 03/26/2020
Print Headline: Mayor orders longer curfew starting today