By Ray King

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday that he is lifting the restrictions on gyms, physical fitness centers and indoor athletic facilities effective Monday, May 4 with limits on social distancing.

At his daily COVID-19 press conference, the Governor listed some of the things the facilities will have to do when they reopen.

Those things include screening patrons to insure they have not been to any COVID-19 hotspot, patrons and staff wearing face coverings except when exercising, having hand sanitizer available and taking the temperature of staff members.

In addition, the Governor said pools, spas, showers and saunas will not be allowed.

“We’re not ready for that yet,” he said.

Other requirements will be that there must be a 12-foot distance between participants while working out, involved in training sessions and classes, exercise machines will be sanitized after each use, and no personal contact.

Hutchinson also said he was not ready to lift the restrictions yet on youth activities and sports. He said he will announce his plans on those activities later in May.

On Wednesday, 3,192 cases of COVID-19 had been reported and in the past 24 hours, an additional 63 new cases were reported, bringing the state total to 3,255. Of those, 1,888 are active. There are currently 95 people hospitalized and there have been two additional deaths, bringing the state total to 61. Twenty-two of those deaths occurred in nursing homes.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith reported that no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported at Cummins prison. An additional 14 new cases were reported at the Federal Correctional Institute at Forrest City, bringing the total there to 101. All of the new cases involved inmates.