LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a new closing time for all businesses in Arkansas licensed to sell or that allow consumption of alcohol as concerns over a renewed COVID-19 surge continues.

The new directive orders bars, restaurants and private clubs with “on-premise” permits to close by 11 p.m. starting Friday. The new order runs through January 3.

In a release announcing the move, the governor cited the need to limit opportunities of “prolonged social interaction in group settings” in order to address the growing coronavirus spread.

“In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus as a result of prolonged social interaction in group settings, I am accepting the recommendation of the Winter COVID Task Force to require bars, restaurants, and clubs that sell alcohol for consumption in their establishment to close at 11 p.m.,” Hutchinson said in the release. “This is a balanced approach that is limited and targeted as we work to reduce new COVID cases in our state.”

Violations of this new state directive could lead to a fine of between $100 and $500 or up to a month in jail.