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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Pope County Sheriff points out exceptions to statewide mask mandate

On Thursday, July 17, 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; • with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering; • performing job duties where a mask could inhibit the ability to safely and effectively perform the duty; • participating in athletic activities where the mask would inhibit those activities; • consuming food or drink; • driving alone or with passengers from the driver's household • receiving services that require access to the face for security, surveillance, or other purposes. • voting, assisting voters, serving as poll watchers or actively performing election administration duties; • engaged in religious worship activities; • giving a speech or performance for broadcast or to an audience (however those persons shall maintain social distancing); • in counties where the Department of Health has certified the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 to be low.

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.

Pope County 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.

"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," Jones said. "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.

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