BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - The Batesville City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night requiring residents and visitors to wear a face mask in public.
The resolution, which is effective immediately, directs individuals entering workplaces, retail stores, courtrooms, schools, healthcare facilities, places of worship, and even in other’s homes in the city of Batesville, to use face coverings as recommended in the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines.
Mayor Rick Elumbaugh told the council and those watching online that something has to be done.
“We do not want this to happen again. Not in Arkansas, not in Independence County and not in Batesville,” Elumbaugh said. “I think doing nothing is really not an option.”
The mayor said he has spoken with many mayors throughout the state and noticed that many cities passed resolutions instead of ordinances.
Elumbaugh believes an ordinance may put a strain on the police department adding he doesn’t “think the 911 system can handle all of the calls.”
However, he says approving this resolution will allow venues the option to enforce masks in their establishments.
Other council members also stressed the importance of COVID-19 education and the steps needed beyond wearing facial coverings.
A White River Medical Center doctor encouraged the council’s action.
“Our medical staff certainly supports your efforts at resolving, providing a resolution asking all the members of the community and surrounding communities to participate with the use of mask and the use of social distancing,” Dr. James Allen said.
Councilmember Douglas Matthews says there needs to be a conscious effort from everyone.
“I think it ought to be done by ordinance. It should be a law, not a suggestion,” Matthews said. “You don’t have to worry about the enforcement of this. COVID is going to enforce itself. It doesn’t care who it affects.”
Councilmember Chris Poole also addressed those who say it’s their right to choose if they want to wear a mask.
“It’s not that you are accepting the risk by choosing not to wear the mask. You’re forcing everyone around you to accept the measure of risk, by choosing not to wear the mask,” Poole said.
Before the meeting ended, Councilmember Pete Musgrove told his peers it’s also only right that they too wear masks, saying they have to “lead by example.”
Should the infections increase, the council discussed making the resolution an ordinance.
The city council meets again on Aug. 18.