Masking signage

The Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce distributed this sign to its member businesses Monday. The sign is required as part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order requiring masks in public.

The executive order Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed last week that makes mask wearing mandatory in Arkansas is effective today.

The order does not have a built-in expiration date, but is instead effective until the state of emergency declared in connection with COVID-19 expires. Those who don’t follow the order can be fined up to $500.

The governor has said the mandate is necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19. The state had recorded 33,228 confirmed cases of the virus as of Sunday evening, and had 453 residents actively hospitalized with 105 on ventilators. Ashley County currently has 40 confirmed active cases and has seen three deaths; statewide, 357 people have died from the illness.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement about the executive order, stating that she had long encouraged Arkansans to take personal responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks when not able to socially distance.

The Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce sent Monday signage that the governor’s order requires for businesses to its members.

While the executive order, which can be read here, is wide ranging, it provides exceptions. They include:

-Those younger than 10 years

-Those with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent wearing face coverings

-Those whose work is inhibited by safely wearing a mask

-Those participating in sports activities “where six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the activity”

-Those who are eating or drinking

-People driving alone or with passengers from the driver’s household

-Those receiving services “that require access to the face for security, surveillance or other purposes” temporarily

-People who are voting, assisting voters or performing other election administration, though face coverings are “strongly encouraged”

-People giving speeches or performances for broadcast or to an audience, though they are required to safely distance themselves from others

-Persons in counties where the Department of Health has certified that risk of community transmission of COVID-19 is low.

The order says that in order for a county to be considered low-risk, the area must not have had a newly identified case of COVID-19 for 28 consecutive days, “assuming there has been adequate testing in the county.”

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