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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Announces State Wide Mask Mandate

Governor Hutchinson announced today that he has issued a state wide mandate for face coverings beginning July 20, 2020.

Face Covering Executive Order:

The Secretary of Health shall issue a public health directive requiring every person in the state of Arkansas to wear a face covering over the mouth and nose:

  • in all indoor environments where:
    • they are exposed to non-household members and
    • distancing of six (6) feet or more cannot be assured and
  • in all outdoor settings where:
    • there is exposure to non-household members, unless there exists ample space of six (6) feet or more to practice physical distancing.

Exemptions for Persons:

  • younger than 10 years of age;
  • with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • performing job duties where a six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the ability to safely and effectively perform the job duty;
  • consuming food or drink
  • driving alone or with passengers from the driver’s household;
  • receiving services that require access to the face for security, surveillance, or other purposes may temporarily remove a face covering while receiving services;
  • voting, assisting voters, serving as poll watchers, or actively performing administrative duties; however face coverings are strongly encouraged;
  • engaged in religious worship activities; however, face coverings are strongly encouraged;
  • giving a speech or performance for broadcast or to an audience; however those persons shall safely distance from nearby individuals;
  • in countries where the Department of Health has certified that risk of community transmission of COVID-19 is low
  • Executive Orders of the Governor have the force and effect of the law.
  • Violation of a directive from the Secretary of Health during this public health emergency is
  • a misdemeanor offense, and
  • upon conviction punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).

Law Enforcement and local officials have the authority and are encouraged to enforce this directive.

  • First-time violators of this order shall receive a verbal or written warning.
  • Violators of this order under 18 years of age shall only receive a verbal or written warning.
  • No law enforcement officer or local official may detain, arrest or confine in jail any person for violation of this order.
  • This order shall not prohibit law enforcement officers or local officials from enforcing trespassing laws or applicable laws in removing violators at the request of businesses or other property owners.
  • Cities and counties may issue local ordinances consistent with this order.
  • Cities shall not impose any measure that is in conflict with a directive or guideline issued by the secretary of health, in consultation with the Governor.
  • The provisions of this order shall supersede those contained Executive Order 20-41; however, nothing in this order shall invalidate any ordinance passed pursuant to EO 20-41.
  • This order shall automatically expire upon termination of the current emergency.

“The number of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are numbers that speak for themselves and indicate that we need to do more. Secondly I have listened to doctors and nurses who are on the front line in this fight against COVID-19 and they have asked the public to do more. Thirdly I think it’s important to hear from legislators and I’ve heard from legislators that have a lot of different views, but many of them simply say I don’t like it but whatever it takes, let’s get through this and give us the best chance for normal activities in the future. And then very significantly as a reason for this mandate, it’s our children and our grandchildren, our children and grandchildren will be going back to school this year and they will be required in most instances to wear face coverings and if you think about, if you’re going to ask the children in the school setting to wear face coverings for everyone’s health and safety, then the adults must help them to be ready and to set the right example for them. So for all of those reasons I believe this mandate is appropriate and necessary,” Hutchinson said during the press conference.

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