Gov. Hutchinson announces statewide mandate for face coverings

FULL BRIEFING 7/16: Gov. Hutchinson and ADH COVID-19 update for Arkansas - State-wide mask requirement

Gov. Hutchinson also announced a statewide mandate for face coverings, beginning next Monday.

The executive order, issued Thursday, includes several exemptions.

They include people under the age of 10; people with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering; people performing job duties where a six-foot distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the ability to safely and effectively do a job duty; people participating in athletic activities where a six-foot distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory; people eating or drinking; people driving alone or with passengers from the driver’s household; and people receiving services that require access to the face for security, surveillance or other purposes may temporarily remove a face covering while receiving the services.

Officials also said other exemptions include people voting, assisting voters or working as poll workers; people engaged in religious worship activities, while face coverings are encouraged; people giving a speech or performance for broadcast to an audience; or people in counties where no newly identified cases of COVID-19 have been found in 28 days.

Violation of the order is a misdemeanor, with a fine of $100 to $500 possible, the order noted.

First-time offenders shall be given a verbal or written warning, while anyone under the age of 18 who violates the order shall receive a verbal or written warning.

Law enforcement or local officials cannot “detain, arrest or confine in jail any person in violation of this order,” the order noted.

However, cities and counties may issue a local ordinance that is consistent with the order but cannot “impose any measure that is in conflict with a directive or guideline” from the Secretary of Health, the order noted.

Gov. Hutchinson reported the latest on COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Romero reported additional COVID-19 numbers.

The Arkansas Department of Health says at this time, it is not releasing city-level COVID-19 data.

Gov. Hutchinson says legislators at the state capitol will wear masks.

If a county has no positive cases for 28 days and is doing adequate testing, they could be exempt from the mask requirement, Gov. Hutchinson says.

However, Gov. Hutchinson says there is no guarantee that we will have an immediate reversal in cases with the mask mandate.

Gov. Hutchinson was asked if the state will offer financial assistance to parents who stay home after opting for virtual learning.

The governor was asked if he received input from local law enforcement officers before issuing the mask mandate.

Gov. Hutchinson says a local ordinance will have to be consistent with the statewide mask mandate.