Arkansas judge dismisses lawsuit challenging virus mandates

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FILE – This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a group of Republican legislators seeking to invalidate a mask mandate and other restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen on Wednesday ruled that the directives issued by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration are within the governor’s authority under state law and legislative rules.

The lawsuit filed by 18 GOP lawmakers argued the restrictions required legislative approval.

A state representative who led the lawsuit effort said he planned to appeal Griffen’s ruling.

Arkansas was among a handful of states that didn’t issue a stay-at-home order.

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