Governor Hutchinson to allow cities in Arkansas to pass mask mandates

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Governor Asa Hutchinson announced on Friday that the state of Arkansas will allow cities to adopt ordinances requiring residents to wear masks while in public spaces.

Gov. Hutchinson said he asked the Arkansas Municipal League to adopt a model ordinance that would allow cities the opportunity to implement such an ordinance.

The Fayetteville City Council last month passed an ordinance requiring everyone to wear masks or face coverings in public areas. Governor Hutchinson later said the ordinance was overruled by state law. Hutchinson explained Friday that he didn’t believe public education on the the usefulness of masks had been fully achieved at the point.

Today, he shared results of a Runway Group poll in which 82 percent of respondents said they wear personal protective equipment, like a mask, in public places. The Runway Group is an economic development agency co-founded by Steuart Walton, the head of Hutchinson’s Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force.

The governor said the results of the survey show that the public education efforts have worked.

Under the model ordinance, local law enforcement will provide support for businesses that wish to enforce the mask ordinance, but there is no penalty provision, Hutchinson said.

In response to a question regarding Fayetteville’s ordinance, Hutchinson said he’s spoken with Mayor Lioneld Jordan but that the state’s guidelines will govern the response to COVID-19.

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