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Arkansas’ mask mandate came to an end on March 31, 2021. Since July 2020, the mandate required adults to wear masks in all indoor areas with non-household members present if it can’t be assured people will stay 6 feet or more away from each other. Masks are now longer longer required statewide; however, private businesses can still require customers to wear a face mask on their property in Arkansas.   

Once the state requirement  ended, Hutchinson stated last week,  local cities would not able to enforce their own mask mandates; however, it would be at the discretion of each school district to implement their own mandate.  

The federal mask mandate will still supersede state and local rules. 

Both Mena and Ouachita River School Districts announced on their social media platforms that the current mandate will stay in effect with students until further notice. 

The governor’s announcement of the manadate ending came on the same day national health experts advised elected officials not to ease up on restrictions.  Dr. Anthony Fauci stated  “we are doing things prematurely,” and numerous states have reported a rise in COVID-19 cases during the month of March.

The end of the mask mandate was prompted by Arkansas’ numbers of hospitalizations and new cases falling below the criteria.

Also Monday morning, lawmakers rejected an effort to end the emergency declared in the state and Hutchinson will be allowed to keep his emergency powers for an additional two months with the 60-day extension.

Arkansas currently has 16.8% of its residents fully vaccinated, 13.7% within the Arkansas River Valley (includes Polk County). 

At press time, Polk County had a total of two active cases, a total of 1,959 cumulative cases and 69 deaths.

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