Gov. mandates masks beginning Monday

Saturday, July 18, 2020

On Thursday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson issued an executive order mandating face coverings beginning on Monday.

A violation would be a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500.

Exemptions from face mask mandate are those younger than 10 years of age; a medical condition or disability; voting, assisting voters, serving as poll watchers, or actively performing election administration duties.

“First time violators of this order shall receive a verbal or written warning. Violators of this order under 18 years of age shall only receive a verbal or written warning,” stated Hutchinson. “No law enforcement officer or local officer may detain, arrest, or confine in jail any person for violation of this order. This order shall not prohibit law enforcement officers or local officials from enforcing trespassing laws or other applicable laws in removing violators at the request of businesses or other property owners.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement on Hutchinson’s executive order Thursday.

“I have long encouraged Arkansans to take personal responsibility of preventing the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks when not able to socially distance,” Rutledge said. “It is imperative that we all take the exponential spread of this deadly disease seriously not only for the safety of family, friends and neighbors, but we must also reopen our schools and get our economy back to its full strength moving our country away from this virus and back to exercising our God given freedoms.”

During Blytheville Mayor James Sanders’ Wednesday press conference, he and Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson said Walmart and Sam’s Clubs will start mandating mask be worn in stores starting Monday.

Since the press conference other business such as Kroger have followed the same direction, however, Sanders told the NEA Town Courier Friday morning that the governor’s executive order will apply to all stores. The order reads, “The Secretary of Health shall issue a public health directive requiring every person in Arkansas to wear a face covering over the mouth and nose; in all indoor environments where they are exposed to non-household members and distancing of six (6) feet or more cannot be assured and in all outdoor settings where; there is exposure to non-household members, unless there exists ample space of six (6) feet or more to practice physical distancing.”

As of Friday the numbers for Mississippi County are 375 cases — with 111 active — 260 recoveries, and four deaths.

The number of active cases as of Friday was 56 in the 72315 zip code and 36 in Osceola.

Sanders stated Wednesday that there will be testing at the Health Department on July 24 from 12-6 p.m.