Governor Asa Hutchinson began Thursday’s press conference by issuing a mandate requiring everyone to wear masks when not able to assure social distancing protocol.
The protocol requires everyone to wear masks when unable to assure a social distancing distance of six feet. Those found violating the mandate can be fined as little as $100 and as much as $500.
Governor Hutchinson stated that the decision to issue the mandate comes as a result of multiple factors. He mentioned the rising number of positive cases, as well as hospitalizations and deaths as being factors. He also stated that the decision was made after several conversations with members of the healthcare community. He mentioned discussions with legislators also weighed into the decision.
The last contributing factor he mentioned was the fact that children and grandchildren will be returning to school soon. He stated that in most cases students will be required to wear masks while in class and in school buildings. He added that by wearing masks adults are setting a good example for students who are asked to wear masks at school.
Governor Hutchinson also stated that wearing masks will not result in a quick turnaround in positive numbers. He cited other states such as California and Texas whose numbers increased after mask mandates were issued. He stated that wearing masks is just one tool in the fight against COVID-19.
Those who violate the mandate will receive a warning on a first offense with subsequent violations being declared a misdemeanor charge as dictated by state law. Those guilty of violating the mandate could face a fine of at least $100 and no more than $500.
There are a list of exemptions with the most noteworthy being counties who have not had a positive case for 28 days will be exempt.
The mandate will be in full effect Monday, July 20 and will be in effect until the emergency is deemed over, or otherwise mandated by the Governor.