Arkansas blocks alcohol sales at site of prohibited concert

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Arkansas regulators have suspended the alcohol permit for a theater planning a concert in defiance of the state’s ban on large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. —
Arkansas regulators on Thursday suspended the alcohol permit for a theater planning to host a concert in defiance of the state’s ban on large gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The head of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Division issued the suspension against TempleLive, a Fort Smith venue that has been ordered to cancel or postpone its Friday concert with country-rock singer Travis McCready. The show, expected to draw more than 200 people, is scheduled three days before the state is allowing theaters, arenas and other indoor entertainment venues to reopen with restrictions.

A representative from the theater did not immediately return a message Thursday morning. TempleLive planned a press conference Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman for the regulator said the venue’s permit will be returned if TempleLive confirms it won’t proceed with the show. Otherwise, the state planned a June 3 hearing on whether the theater’s permit will be revoked.

Arkansas is allowing indoor entertainment venues to reopen Monday but with a 50-person limit in the audience. That restriction can be raised to one-third of a venue’s capacity, but only if it submits a plan that is approved by the state beforehand.

The state on Tuesday issued a cease-and-desist order for the concert, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said the venue will face consequences if it moves forward with the show.

The venue has said it planned to reduce its capacity from 1,100 people to 229 for the show, and that it will be checking the temperature of patrons at the door.



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