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Local church weighs in on Arkansas mask mandate

The mask mandate across Arkansas goes into effect starting Monday, although the policy offers several exceptions, including places of worship.
Credit: MGN Galleries

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The mask mandate across Arkansas goes into effect starting Monday (July 20), although the policy offers several exceptions, including places of worship.

Since May 24th, Friendship Church in Springdale has held in-person services. Pastor Mike Syphult says as soon as their doors opened back up, wearing masks has been a priority.

“Everybody has been very compliant with it. We thank the Lord we have no had one single reported case of the virus in our congregation,” Syphult said.

The Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a statewide mask mandate on Thursday with several exceptions including places of worship. Ultimately leaving the decision up to faith leaders to make their own rules.

“If you’re engaged in religious worship activities but we encourage face coverings in that environment,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

Pastor Syphult explains his approach with the mask mandate.

“We are going to continue to do the social distancing, the hand sanitizer, and the mask. We are going to continue to do that until we see a rather steep decline in cases of viruses in our area,” Syphult said.

During their church services, chairs are spread far apart, hand sanitizer if offered to you when you walk in the door as well as masks if you don’t have one.

“I think it’s just the responsible thing to do,” Syphult said. “I don’t think it’s hard to do and we just want to keep everybody safe even if we have the option to remove the mask we are going to keep them on for right now.”

Exemptions to the executive order also include:

  • Children younger than 10 years old
  • Those with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face-covering
  • When eating or drinking
  • Driving alone or with passengers from the same household
  • While voting
  • In counties where the Department of Health has certified the risk of community transmission is low