FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — In a tentative agenda session held on the afternoon of January 11, the Fayetteville City Council discussed the possibility of implementing a short-term mask mandate.

If passed, the ordinance would require people to wear face masks “in public service areas in city-owned buildings and places of public accommodation, subject to reasonable exemptions.”

Language in the legislative text noted that the most important duty of the city is to “protect the safety and preserve the health of its citizens, residents and visitors,” adding the observation that “Washington County has recently had the second largest number of new daily cases of COVID-19 in the state.”

Section 2 of the proposed legislative text noted the following exceptions:

  • Masks may be removed while eating or drinking “if social distancing and disinfection best practices are also followed.”
  • Settings with ten or fewer people present, such as small business offices which do not serve the public in person, and areas without normal public access.
  • Reasonable accomodations may be made for “individuals with a disabling condition” that prevents wearing a face mask.
  • Masks may be removed outdoors “while best practices to maintain social distance are followed.”
  • Children of less than two years of age are exempt.

The proposed ordinance also includes a “Sunset Clause,” allowing it to be a short-term measure dependent on future conditions. As written, the mask mandate would automatically terminate on March 2, 2022, unless extended by the passing of a separate resolution by March 1. In that case, the Council would set a new date for the termination of the mandate.

The city approved a similar mandate in August 2021 after COVID-19 cases began to rise. It was repealed in a November vote and the mandate ended on December 23.

The new measure will be voted on at next week’s City Council meeting unless an earlier emergency meeting is called for.