Arkansas Department of Health to Order “Socially Distant” Concert to Cease & Desist

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced at a press conference that the Arkansas Department of Health will issue a cease-and-desist order to TempleLive, a Fort Smith venue scheduled to hold a “socially distant” concert by Bishop Gunn frontman Travis McCready on May 15. The governor’s directive to reopen venues goes into effect on May 18.

“That concert does not have our approval. It would happen three days before the authorized date, as well as a few other problems.” Hutchinson told reporters at a news conference on Monday, May 11. “We’ve looked at their plan, and the plan is insufficient as well.”

TempleLive’s plan to host the concert includes reducing the venue’s 1,100-person maximum capacity to 229 seats, separated into “fan pods,” rows of 2-12 tickets sold in groups at least six feet apart, with the intention of isolating separate groups of people. Attendees would be required to have their temperature taken upon entry and wear face masks, with the bathrooms limited 10 people at a time. The governor’s directive limits audience sizes at venues to 50 people.

TempleLive’s Mike Brown told 40/29 News that the venue plans to go ahead with with the concert despite the governor’s warnings. Arkansas Department of Finance representative Scott Hardin suggested that the state‘s Alcohol Beverage Control could pull the venue’s liquor license. The mayor of Fort Smith, George B. McGill, told the New York Times that the city would support the state’s policy for reopening concerts.

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