LITTLE ROCK, Ark.— Big changes are underway across the state to combat the spike in COVID-19 cases.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced he will sign an executive order for a state-wide mask mandate.
According to the face coverings executive order:
“The Secretary of Health shall issue a public health directive requiring every person in Arkansas to wear a face covering over the mouth and nose:
-in all indoor environments where:
- they are exposed to non-household members and
- distancing of six (6) feet or more cannot be assured and
-in all outdoor settings where:
- there is exposure to non-household members, unless there exists ample space of six (6) feet or more to practice physical distancing.”
The mandate goes into effect on Monday. Some say they feel the government should not tell citizens what they can and cannot do.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Melissa Moore.
Moore is a resident in Little Rock. She says she was shocked to hear of the mandate.
“I think it’s an infringement on our rights and I don’t think we should have to do it,” said Moore.
Others we talked to in Little Rock say they think this will be beneficial and don’t mind wearing a mask if it means protecting others.
“It’s not that bad. We are here in the hottest dog days of summer and I am still walking around with a mask on my face because it’s the right thing to do,” said Nathan Helms.
Helms says he disagrees with those who refuse to wear a mask and also thinks Arkansas should have implemented a mask mandate a long time ago.
“It’s really just about not spreading the disease to other people,” said Helms.
According to state officials, “Violation of a directive from the Secretary of Health during this public health emergency is
- a misdemeanor offense, and
- upon conviction, punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).”
State officials say law enforcement and local officials have the authority and are encouraged to enforce the directive.
According to state officials, first-time violators of this order shall receive a verbal or written warning.
State officials say violators who are under 18 years old can only receive a verbal or written warning.
According to state officials, no law enforcement or local official can detain, arrest or confine in jail any person for violation of the order.
The governor said, “This is not about arresting anyone, but education and a penalty and a consequence.
For more information on the mask-mandate click here.