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Little Rock Mayor Announces Stricter Curfew, Penalties As Coronavirus Cases Rise

Daniel Breen

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. says police can now issue citations to people caught breaking the city's extended overnight curfew from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. This comes as the city also institutes a daytime curfew for minors from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. in an effort to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to reporters after a special meeting of the city Board of Directors Wednesday, Scott said there are some exceptions for the daytime curfew.

"If you have a work permit, you can still go to work. If you are with an adult, you can still be traveling. And if you're going to get groceries for a senior, you still can travel within that period of time. Again, we are speaking mainly to gatherings outside," Scott said.

Citations can carry a penalty ranging from $150 to $185. The curfew for minors will be in effect from next Monday until April 17, when schools in Arkansas are set to re-open.

Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey previously said motorists would not be subject to the overnight curfew, and that healthcare and other overnight workers are exempt.

Mayor Scott also announced he would no longer seek a 1% sales tax increase for "quality of life and place" improvements he had previously announced at his State of the City address in January. He said his administration will also present an amended city budget to reflect an expected decrease in revenue from business losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott said his administration will work with the federal government to identify hotels and other facilities that can be converted to house patients to relieve the strain on hospitals expecting an influx of COVID-19 patients.

"We'll be working with Medicaid and [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and others to convert many of our hotels, many existing hospitals that may not be at as full use as possible, to convert to help many of our… elderly and housing-insecure patients so we can relieve pressure from the existing hospitals that are dedicated to COVID-19," Scott said.

City Manager Bruce Moore said the city will also seek housing for elderly and other at-risk people who may need to be quarantined amid the virus outbreak. He said he expects the federal government to reimburse the city for that.

Scott said the city is rolling out an online and in-person giving platform to go toward purchasing personal protective equipment, and to donate funds to World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit helping to provide food to students in central Arkansas as they are out of school.

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