Pete Hegseth [0:04]:
Welcome back. Well, as protesters across the country call on their governors to roll back stay-at-home orders and lift lockdowns, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson has been taking heat for not rolling out a more aggressive lockdown, letting people use common sense, instead imposing other restrictions that closed businesses such as gyms and casinos.
Jillian Mele [0:25]:
He has since announced the formation of an economic recovery task force. So, what is Arkansas his plan to reopen?
Griff Jenkins [0:31]:
Governor Hutchinson joins us live this morning. Governor, thanks for joining us. We hear that early May is going to be your target in the state of Arkansas. You’re one of only a handful that never issued that same order. What is the plan for Arkansas?
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson [0:47]:
Well, we’ve issued a directive — a goal — that, by May 4, we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions. We’ve tried to recognize from day one that we’ve got to have a balance. We’ve got to make sure that we close some of the person-to-person businesses, which we’ve done — barbershops, gymnasiums, things like that. We hope that we can lift some of those restrictions after May 4. But we haven’t had a complete shelter-in-place perspective because we know that we’re in this for the long haul. And you cannot simply do that, and it would shut down our economy over a very, very long period of time and put hundreds of thousands more out of work. So, we’ve tried to maintain that balance. But now we have our economic recovery task force, combined with our medical team and our public health team that’s looking at “How we can convince consumers that you can be safe going out?” Because the consumers — the public — are not going to go into restaurants, they’re not going to go into their place of employment unless they can feel like they’re being safe. And so, we have taken this very, very seriously, because when people die, it’s highly contagious. We want to make sure that we put in the public health requirements that are absolutely essential. So, we take it seriously, but we also recognize that America and Arkansas needs to do business. We’ve got to balance our economic sustainability and jobs with the public health requirements. I think we can do that. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and May 4.
Jillian Mele [2:25]:
Governor, at the top of the show, I was saying that — you know — kind of what you were just saying. Is there is a balance to be had, here, as different states start to reopen, when it comes to opening businesses, listening to proper protocols with social distancing, wearing masks if you have to in the workplace, things like that? Also, taking into account — you know — people need to get the economy open, they need to work, but we need to still follow guidelines. So, what do those guidelines look like for you in your state?
Governor Hutchinson [2:48]:
Well, in terms of our guidelines, we do encourage wearing a mask if you cannot socially distance. I try to set that right example by wearing a mask whenever I am out. Whenever you look at the gatherings, it’s restricted to 10 or fewer, in terms of the social gatherings. In the workplace, we’re putting in the same requirements in the workplace. And it’s not requirements. It’s businesses want to stay open, so they want to keep their customer — the public safe, and so, they’re putting in these requirements of checking temperature, making sure the counters are cleaned more frequently. And if you go into our supermarkets and our stores, you will see they’re putting limitations on how many people can be there at the same time. This is what I expect the economic recovery task force to work on, is not just how to rejuvenate business, but how to do it in a safe way, including sports and churches, because we’re going to worry next fall about a relapse of this, about a new surge. And so, we want to prepare for the long term on this and that’s what this task force is designed to do.
Pete Hegseth [4:03]:
Governor, other states similar to yours — some with more cases, some with less — have made the decision to tell their residents to stay at home. They’ve closed more businesses than you have there in Arkansas. Why have you taken this approach? Is it tied to herd immunity? Is it tied to common sense? Why did you say, “Hey in our state, we’re going to stay open. We’re just going to do it with common sense.”
Governor Hutchinson [4:28]:
Well, first of all, every state should have flexibility. I respect every governor who’s made a different decision, because they did it for their state. But in terms of Arkansas, I think a shelter-in-place order would have led to confusion. And it’s confusion that you’re seeing on the streets of America right now. You know, “Why is our business closed?” or, “Why are we restricted from doing this when others can go out and continue on in their business?” So, it’s confusion. But then secondly, it’s the long term. How long can America stay sheltered. That’s not in our DNA over a long, long period of time. I like people making good decisions. We educate them on the public health requirements and the risk of coronavirus. And so, the elderly, the vulnerable, they’re sheltering in place. So they’re not going out.
Griff Jenkins [5:18]:
Quickly, Governor, we’re almost out of time. When you talk about people making good decisions, who’s heading up your task force?
Governor Hutchinson [5:23]:
Well, I have, actually, Steuart Walton, who is an entrepreneur. He’s heading up our recovery task force. And our public health director Dr. Nate Smith guides our public health team. So, we got both of them work at the same time. But I’m delighted for all of the industry leaders coming together to help us on that recovery task force.