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Arkansas directives lifted, restaurants can operate at full capacity

Published: Feb. 28, 2021 at 10:34 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Arkansas is seeing some changes when it comes to COVID-19 regulations. Restaurants can operate at 100% capacity with new guidelines under a directive.

Some restaurant owners say they are excited for the change, while others are playing it safe.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable still, and we’re still going to fill it out you know as people come in. If they want to be social distanced and be away, then we’re still going to accommodate to that,” said John Cathey owner of Brick Oven Pizza Company.

For months, restaurants and bars in Arkansas operated under strict directives issued by the state due to COVID-19.

“We’re very excited. We went through a year of all this with the pandemic and the shutdown, and it was really hard on some of us.” said Cathey

But some are playing it safe. Paige Brewer at New Tokyo in Harrison said it will continue to operate at 50-60% capacity.

“It’s a lot better for our customers. We have a lot of older people who come in and eat. We just don’t want to affect them in any way and make everyone feel safe,” said Brewer.

Customers say they are happy to see life getting back to normal.

“We’re happy to be in the public, and visit with friends and family that we haven’t been able to visit with in a long time,” said customer Tom Pace.

Before Brick Oven Pizza Company can fill all its seats, the eatery needs a little more help.

“So first off, I’m gonna have to hire more staff, which is good, it will bring in more jobs. We’re looking to hire maybe three to five more servers and bartenders and a couple of cooks as well,” said Cathey.

Restaurants that choose to operate at 100% capacity will not be penalized or fined. Arkansas is still under a mask mandate and extended the health emergency another month.

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