FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The City of Fayetteville met Tuesday, August 3, and approved the legislation asking Governor Asa Hutchinson to amend Act 1002 giving the local government the option to enact a mask mandate.
On Wednesday, August 4, Governor Asa Hutchinson and lawmakers will meet in Little Rock for a special session. One of the main topics of discussion concerns Act 1002, which was passed in April and prohibits state and local mask mandates.
Gov.Hutchinson expressed regret in his signing of Act 1002 into law during his Tuesday press conference and went on to say he wants to amend the law to allow school districts to make their own decisions as covid-19 cases surge. “In hindsight, I wish that had not become law. But it is the law,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Now the governor is trying to reverse course, but the Legislative special session is only looking at amending the section involving schools being able to require masks instead of local cities. Fayetteville’s City Council is adding the request to their meeting agenda.
“In the best interest of the citizens of Fayetteville and every other city in Arkansas," said Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams. "Have the historic and necessary authority to protect the life and health of its citizens to return to the local government."
The council voted 7-1 yes. However, the Fayetteville resolution didn’t pass without some opposition.
“I’m going to go no,” said city council member Holly Hertzberg. Saying it puts businesses in a difficult situation but some businesses we spoke to in downtown Fayetteville disagree.
“I think it would help. Because right now a lot of business kind of feel muzzled,” said Chase Gamradt, general manager of Bordino's on Dickson. With the rise in covid-19 cases in Arkansas, Bordino's is now requiring staff to start wearing masks again. “I think that what we’re seeing is this is not going to end anytime soon. So, will have to re-adapt again and go back to what we were doing before.” Gamradt said.
Teacher Kyle Smith agreed and spoke about masks are needed to slow the spread to keep everyone safe. “We cannot afford another year of educational shut down,” Smith said.
“I think it’s a good idea just not to step away from the power of any city to decide what they want to do and what they think is best for their city," said Gamradt when speaking about being proactive against the rising COVID-19 cases.
Members of the city council also mentioned how CDC guidelines should be followed, which requires both unvaccinated and vaccinated people to wear a mask indoors but say act 10-02 prevents that.