Arkansas Mask Mandate
On Thursday, July 16th, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a mandate requiring everyone in public to wear a mask, both inside and outside. However, there are exceptions. The mandate basically states that anyone in a public area, indoors or out, who will be around any non-household members and cannot maintain social distancing of more than six feet, must wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose. However, a mask is not required under several circumstances. Those circumstances include the following:
• younger than 10 years of age;
The mandate stipulates that persons in violation can be cited and, if convicted, receive a fine of $100.00, up to $500.00. However, first-time violators shall receive a verbal or written warning. Violators under the age of 18 shall not be cited but only receive warnings. People cannot be jailed or detained for longer than it takes to issue a citation. It also says the mandate 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.
Sheriff Shane Jones stated he is confident that the citizens of Pope County have the ability to make their own decision as to whether or not they fall under the mandate issued by the Governor. He stressed that if you see someone not wearing a mask in public, it may be that person falls under one of the exemptions listed by the Governor's Office. Businesses may require patrons to wear a mask and, if customers refuse to wear a mask or refuse to leave the premises, the business is welcome to call law enforcement as this may be a criminal trespass situation. But, citizens in public not wearing a mask may very well have a legitimate, exempted reason not to. Please keep that in mind.