Arkansas lawmakers vote to repeal statewide mask mandate after governor allows it to expire

With COVID-19 infection rates leveling off and vaccination rates increasing, state leaders across the nation have scaled back or repealed existing mandates meant to reduce viral spread.

In Arkansas, state legislators voted on Wednesday to cancel a statewide mask mandate implemented by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Washington Examiner reported. The move came just one day after the governor had allowed the mandate to expire.

“That is what concerned me”

With a 20–9 vote, state senators passed a bill to officially remove the mandate, declaring: “The requirement of face coverings is no longer necessary to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Arkansas and is a burden on the public peace, health, and safety of the citizens of this state.”

State Sen. Trent Garner, a Republican, said the vote was important because of the penalties associated with violating the mandate as well as the possibility that it could be reinstated should conditions change in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

“This was an individual right being changed, where you as a person had to do this, up to a $500 fine, and so that is what concerned me,” Garner told the Examiner.

He went on to argue that Hutchinson’s “executive order was poorly written, was largely unenforceable, and local police departments said they would not enforce it or could not enforce it as written.”

The governor, on the other hand, claimed the Senate-approved measure would “prohibit private businesses, schools, and hospitals from requirements for face coverings,” declaring that it “is not a good idea” and signaling a willingness to “veto the bill in its current form.”

“You need to continue to mask”

Addressing the governor and other critics, Garner said that the bill was not intended to prevent localities from requiring masks and that an amendment would clarify that point when the bill is presented to the House for a vote.

Several of the state’s more populous cities, as well as many school districts and colleges, have indicated that they plan to continue requiring masks over the next weeks and months.

In February, Hutchinson said his goal was not to renew the mandate when it expired at the end of March. The state’s top health official, however, insisted that the absence of a statewide mandate did not negate the need for masks in public places.

“The removal of the mask mandate is not a statement that we do not need to mask,” said Arkansas Health Secretary Jose Romero. “You need to continue to mask when you leave your home, you need to continue to avoid large gatherings, you need to follow the recommendations of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. Only that way can you keep the numbers low as we’re seeing them.”

More than a year after masks were first required in most public spaces, several other states are similarly rolling back their mandates despite President Joe Biden’s pleas to keep them in place.

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8 Responses

  1. it seems that the Democratic Mayors and Governors don’t want to give citizens the right to chose if they want to wear a mask or not. That is called Control and its soon going to back fire on them. Why do we need to keep allowing these Mayors and Governors to Control every thing there is in our lives. Its not necessary. You want to wear a mask for your life time. Go ahead. You are tired of this. Then don’t wear one. I am sick and tired of the Control Freak that is a Governor of Colorado. He won’t be satisfied until he is no longer Governor.

  2. This is still America. We are a free people and we have the right to make our own decisions. I understand that some free people prefer to be told what to do, what to eat, where to go and like not making any decisions. That too is your right but for those who have lived, failed, got up and started all over again, DON’T tell us what, how, or where to live. Let us continue on as our forefathers fought for.

    1. You are exactly right. It is time we the people learned more about our rights and how to stand up to the democrats who want to git rid of the constitution and the use it against us. I don’t know how to go about all this but this is a good start . Talking to each other and go to work . Biden didn’t win the election. We need to stop all this or we will be total communist , if not already .

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  4. Folks the Democratic party leaders are hell bent on telling us citizens of what we can and can’t due,this crumby party seems to think they know what best for us. We are adults and we know what is and what isn’t,i;ll be damn have some know it all politician and most states that are Democratic control this whole mess is POWER & MONEY.

  5. Joe Biden talks a lot about following the science but he hasn’t followed the science yet.
    There isn’t one iota of evidence that masks work at all for the general public and now they’re not so sure about social distancing either. Joe Biden is the worst thing that ever happened to our country!

  6. Mask, microscopic Graphene Particles are equivalent to asbestos. the gov want us to ware a mask. I hope he still ware his. 90% mask are made in china.

  7. I was just chatting with my coworker about this today at lunch . Don’t remember how we got on the subject in truth, they brought it up. I do recall eating a wonderful steak salad with cranberries on it. I digress

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