Governor Asa Hutchinson announced cities across the state may implement an ordinance requiring mandatory face coverings to help curb the spread of COVID-19 by signing Executive Order 20-41 on Friday.
“This provides a local option for cities to give them more flexibility if they have a community in which they might have a surge in cases. This model ordinance, from the Municipal League, provides a consistency in approach across the state,” Governor Hutchinson said.
Chairman of the Economic Recovery Task Force Steuart Walton added, “Governor Hutchinson’s balanced approach of giving cities the option to enact mask ordinances where most needed helps us protect the health of Arkansans and ensure the economy can continue to recover.”
This executive order allows for:
Local law enforcement and other city officials to enforce the use of face coverings upon the business’ premises in accordance with public health guidelines.
Local law enforcement and other city officials to act in a support capacity, through enforcement, to educate and encourage members of the public who decline to wear a face covering about the efficacy of wearing such coverings.
Local law enforcement and other city officials to assist in enforcement through education of individuals who decline to comply with the face covering requirement of any local business that the individual must abide by the local business’ mandate or leave the premises.
Municipal League General Counsel John Wilkerson said, “Consistency is incredibly important and that is why this model ordinance says that the city is going to require the usage of masks in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Health.”
Mansfield Mayor Buddy Black responded to the order stating, “I’m not sure what the city council’s position is regarding the order from Governor Hutchinson allowing cities to pass an ordinance requiring masks to be worn. We will get feedback and possibly have it as an item on the next city council meeting agenda. It is a very controversial subject about the mandatory aspect of it. I personally like to see people wearing masks, but to be forced to is something that the council will need to look at and decide what they feel is best.”
“I think the ordinance idea is fine since it has no enforcement teeth so it could just be used to educate,” stated Waldron Mayor David Millard. “I myself will not encourage one for Waldron.”
In The City of Hackett, Mayor Trini Harper stated “I personally don’t think it’s necessary. We had our 4th of July celebration and we did the social distancing. Those that wished to wear masks did so.”
When it comes to enforcement, Waldron Police Chief Jeremy Hunt shared, “I don’t think that our mayor would enact one, and honestly I have no interest in enforcing something like that.”