UPDATE: Camden City Council approves mask ordinance, effective immediately

Coronavirus

CAMDEN, Ark. (07/14/20) — The Camden City Council voted to pass an ordinance that would require the usage of face masks in public spaces.

The council voted 7-1 in favor of the measure. According to the ordinance, law enforcement and other city officials will support local businesses that wish to enforce the use of face masks.

Businesses don’t have to comply if they choose. A person can’t call the police on someone that isn’t masked unless they are calling as the owner or representative of private property.

The ordinance will go into effect immediately. The city clerk will mail out signs tomorrow. There will be no fine or citation attached.

A concern was raised that some people can’t wear a mask because they have health conditions. Mayor Lott pointed to community resources to help with that issue.

Camden City Council will vote on mask ordinance tonight

CAMDEN, Ark. (7/14/20) — The City of Camden is hoping to take a more localized approach in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Soon, face coverings could be required for all residents and visitors to wear going inside a business.

“It’s not a financial move. It’s not a political move. It’s a medical decision to make sure we are being concerned about others in our community and not just our own selves and our own rights and our own comforts,” Mayor Julian Lott said.

The ordinance that some city officials are hoping to pass is an exact replica of what the Arkansas Municipal League suggested.

Governor Asa Hutchinson made an executive order on July 3 for local municipalities to enforce a mask ordinance. He doesn’t plan to issue a state-wide mandate.

The City of Lake Village enforced its ordinance on July 7th while the City of El Dorado plans to discuss the issue at the July 23 council meeting.

Cities like Crossett and Magnolia don’t plan to enforce anything at all.

Some patrons don’t understand why the government would even want to infringe on their rights.

“The ordinance I don’t think should happen,” Adam Davis said. “I think as Americans, we should have the freedom to make a decision that’s best for us.”

However, Davis does see the importance of wearing a mask and particularly wears it to make others comfortable.

“I should have the freedom to wear it or not but I also need to understand as everyone else should that others are going to feel uncomfortable if you don’t wear it,” Davis said.

Business owners like Catherine Glaze are praising the efforts of Camden officials. Her employees are required to wear a mask and believe patrons should too.

She has enforced her own rules for her restaurant, Catherine’s Bistro. Customers must come in with a mask. If they don’t have one, there is a box filled with plenty outside of the entrance.

Each customer also gets their temperature taken which is recorded in a book to keep track of who comes in and comes out.

“I run the chance of exposing my employees and them getting sick. That shuts my business down for at least two weeks,” Glaze said. “They all have families and I have to take that into consideration.”

When Governor Hutchinson announced phase one of reopening the businesses and restaurants, one of the main guidelines was requiring patrons to wear a mask.

Some business owners say customers haven’t always abided by those rules and neither have they respected it.

The ordinance, drafted by the Arkansas Municipal League, suggests law enforcement officers “educate and encourage” the use of masks when they are called to address an issue with someone who doesn’t want to comply.

All businesses aren’t required to participate. It’s only for those that would like to. Some question if law enforcement will be able to enforce the ordinance but Mayor Lott says as long as everyone does their part there shouldn’t be any problems.

“I think it’s an honor that you get to do the right thing that would help someone else live longer,” he said.

The city council will vote on the measure at 7 p.m.

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