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Fayetteville reinstates temporary mask mandate for public places

The Fayetteville City Council has decided to reinstate a temporary mask mandate for public service areas and city buildings.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Fayetteville City Council has chosen to reinstate a temporary mask mandate for businesses within the city. 

The decision was made during a city council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18, after the state saw a surge in omicron COVID-19 cases. 

Face masks will now be required in public service areas and city-owned buildings. 

During last week's city council meeting, Police Chief Mike Reynolds explained how the mask mandate would be enforced.

“You or your designees require masks and they refuse to, then they would be asked to leave the building at that point and time. If they refuse to leave, they would be given a warning of criminal trespassing and if they refuse to leave the building then they would be arrested,” Chief Reynolds said.

According to Fayetteville Health Officer, Dr. Marti Sharkey, Arkansas is five times over the recommended threshold of cases to require masks. 

Dr. Sharkey says area hospitals are caring for 115 COVID patients with 107 in the ICU.

Since the fall, the board of health has recommended that Fayetteville put a mask requirement in place when COVID cases reach 30 in area hospitals. 

“We can’t say with this virus is going to do and what our timeline is. As we witnessed. So, that is why the Board of Health that always recommends that there be a mask mandate as long as we are above those threshold,” Dr. Sharkey said.  

The temporary mask mandate will be in place until March 2. 

Council members also discussed renewing a program allowing COVID-19 funds to go towards getting more residents vaccinated against the virus.

The city used the same campaign during the delta surge back in August of 2020, which gave residents and employees of Fayetteville businesses $100 for getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If renewed by Mayor Lioneld Jordan, residents have between Jan. 18 and March 18 to become fully vaccinated. The more than $200,000 left over from the original campaign will be used to fund this initiative.

Mayor Jordan also requested a COVID Sick Leave bank be established, if necessary, to assist employees who have been diagnosed with the virus. The bank would be set up to cover a period of five days quarantine. The cost to establish the bank could be as high as $200,000 in total for all funds.

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