ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order on Friday (July 3) allowing cities to require masks in public in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.
Heading into the 4th of July, Arkansas is seeing a record number of new COVID-19 cases. On Friday, 547 new positive cases were reported.
During Friday's daily COVID-19 update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said a statewide survey was done in Arkansas, to gauge public attitudes towards wearing masks. In this survey, 82% of the participants stated they wear masks in public. 16% of the respondents answered no to wearing masks in public, and 2% failed to give a response. Of those who answered no, most said they didn't believe masks were effective.
Hutchinson went on to detail an executive order he signed giving cities the option to mandate the requirement of masks in public places.
The Arkansas Municipal League drafted the ordinance for the governor. It entails language that allows cities to require masks, but no penalties or arrests can be made for those who choose not to wear one.
This executive order allows for:
- Local law enforcement and other city officials to enforce the use of face coverings upon the business' premises in accordance with public health guidelines.
- Local law enforcement and other city officials to act in a support capacity, through enforcement, to educate and encourage members of the public who decline to wear a face covering about the efficacy of wearing such coverings.
- Local law enforcement and other city officials to assist in enforcement through education of individuals who decline to comply with the face covering requirement of any local business that the individual must abide by the local business' mandate or leave the premises.
Hutchinson has been hesitant to require masks across Arkansas. This ordinance will give cities the guidance needed to decide if requiring masks is right for them.
The City of Fayetteville already has an ordinance in effect that requires masks. The governor's executive order will supersede any city ordinance already in place.
As Arkansans head into the 4th of July weekend, state health officials say they are 5x more likely to come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 than they were during Memorial Day weekend.
Read the executive order below: