FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously Friday evening to enact a mask mandate following a state court’s action against Act 1002, a law which blocked cities and other entities from enacting mandates.
“We solve the pandemic with vaccinations, but we have to solve this surge with more near-term solutions like wearing a mask,” said Matthew Petty, a city council member who sponsored the ordinance. “That’s why we’re doing this.”
Petty said he acted quickly after the state court granted an injunction against Act 1002 earlier Friday.
“We took action immediately,” Petty said. “This is an emergency, and we want to treat it like that.”
This means vaccinated and unvaccinated people will have to wear masks on city property and around town, but businesses won’t have the same restraints this time around.
“Last time we made it a law that businesses had to refuse services to people who are unmasked,” Petty said. “That’s not the case this time.”
The ordinance also changes how/when the mask mandate will be dropped. The Board of Health will make that determination, or it’ll go away when Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) public health emergency declaration ends.
“We’ll be reconsidering whenever we cross a threshold and things are safe again,” Petty said.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan said the Delta variant’s impact on Fayetteville led to this decision.
“I’m looking at the numbers right now, and they’re looking higher than they were this time last year,” Jordan said. “It’s time for us to take action.”
Jordan said Fayetteville would’ve likely implemented a mandate regardless of the injunction, which is a step Little Rock took Thursday.
“The council’s not been one to sit and idly let things go,” Jordan said. “Neither am I.”
Petty said he hopes this move saves lives, an outcome science supports.
“The hospitals are full, so we’re really doing this for everybody,” Petty said.