EARLE, Ark. (WMC) - The Natural State is now part of a tidal wave of new mask requirements sweeping the country.
Governor Asa Hutchinson says wearing a facial covering will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I think it’s a good thing because you can spread it to somebody and somebody could spread it to me,” said Arthur Berry, Earle resident.
Earle, Arkansas only has just over 2,000 residents. It is rural and yet many of the residents are wearing masks.
Charlie Young’s family has owned Young’s Grocery for decades in Earle. Young is also a city council member who says Earle understands mask mandates.
“We just had a city council meeting and we just passed a city ordinance that says you’ve got to wear a mask,” said Young.
The drugstore in Earle not only requires masks but also takes customers’ temperatures.
Governor Hutchinson has resisted a mask mandate saying multiple times it would be impossible to enforce statewide.
“I don’t believe that government coercion should be the first thing that you turn to. I’m hesitant to do that and we looked at other alternatives like education,” said Hutchinson.
But the governor said the rising number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas became a concern. The governor’s mask mandate comes a day after Walmart, headquartered in Arkansas, mandated masks be worn in its stores across the nation.
West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon says the governor took his time coming to the mask wearing mandate party but he is glad he did. McClendon asked citizens to wear masks in May.
“I’m just glad to say Governor Hutchinson welcome to the party, thank you. We’ve been pushing for some time and I don’t know why it took so long,” said McClendon.
The governor’s directive mandates masks be worn inside and outside, with exceptions children under 10 people, with medical conditions and athletes participating in sporting events or practice.
“We gotta be very serious if we are if they have to tell you , you have to wear it. You can’t argue with him on it,” said Shamika Perry, West Memphis resident.
The governor’s order goes into effect on Monday. Violating the mask mandate could get you a misdemeanor, as well as a $100-500 fine.