Governor Asa Hutchinson issued an official Executive Order yesterday requiring the use of a face mask, citing the rising number of cases and input from healthcare workers, legislators and others who said it is necessary to address the spread of COVID-19. He directed the state Department of Health (ADH) to issue the requirement for Arkansans to wear masks in public places starting Monday, July 20.
"I have listened to doctors and nurses who are on the front line in this fight against COVID-19, and they ask the public to do more," said Governor Hutchinson. "I've heard from legislators that have a lot of different views. But many of them simply say, 'I don't like it, but whatever it takes, let's get through this and give us the best chance for normal activities in the future.'"
QUICK SUMMARY OF STATEWIDE MANDATE
Masks will be required in indoor and outdoor settings where exposed to non-household members and social distancing of six feet or more is not assured.
Executive Orders of the Governor have the force and effect of law. First-time violators will receive a written warning, and those under 18 years of age will "only receive" a verbal or written warning. A written violation is a misdemeanor offense, and punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500.
Also, law enforcement may not detain or jail any person who violates the order. The order does not prevent law enforcement from "enforcing trespassing laws or other applicable laws in removing violators at the request of businesses or other property owners."
The following were the cited exemptions to wearing a mask.
- Younger than 10 years of age.
- With a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
- Participating in athletic activities where a six-feet distance is not achievable, but a mask in inhibitory to the activity.
- Consuming food or drink.
- Driving alone or with passengers from the driver's household.
- Receiving services that require access to the face for security, surveillance, or other purposes may temporarily remove a face covering while receiving those services.
- Voting, assisting voters, serving as poll watchers, or actively performing election administration duties; however, face coverings are strongly encouraged.
- Engaged in religious worship activities; however, face coverings are strongly encouraged.
- Giving a speech or performance for broadcast or to an audience because those persons shall safely distance from nearby individuals.
- In counties where the Department of Health has certified that risk of community transmission of Covid-19 is low.
ADH has activated a call center to answer questions from health care providers and the public about COVID-19. During normal business hours (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.), urgent and non-urgent calls, please call 1-800-803-7847.
HELPFUL LINKS TO KEEP ROGERS SAFE
NWA Council and Healthcare Providers
Safe and Strong Campaign