Arkansas mask mandate to take effect Monday

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s mask mandate to take effect today

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s mask mandate, which he issued through an executive order, takes effect.

“We believe this is important from a public health standpoint,” said Hutchinson. “It is something that is necessary in Arkansas with the cases we’ve had.”

The mandate comes as Arkansas health officials confirmed more than 32,000 cases.

The governor’s mandate says masks must be worn in all indoor and outdoor environments where people are exposed to non-household members and where social distancing isn’t possible.

There are exceptions.

Children under 10 don’t have to wear them; neither do people with medical conditions.

Violating the order is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine of $100 to $500.

But there is no imprisonment provision in the order. Therefore, people won’t be arrested for violating the order.

“First it is a warning that has to be given. Secondly, there could be a citation for a fine,” said Hutchinson.

But some sheriffs across Arkansas have said they will not be enforcing the mandate, saying they have neither the time nor personnel to do so.

Gov. Hutchinson said it would be up to local law enforcement officials to decide how strongly to enforce his mandate.

“In this business of fighting COVID-19, you can’t get cocky because where you see it going well one day, the next day it’s not going well,” said Hutchinson. “There’s no arrogance. There’s not any magical solution. It’s simply hard work every day and doing the right thing.”

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