Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday issued an executive order saying Arkansas cities may implement an ordinance requiring mandatory face coverings to help curb the spread of covid-19.

“This provides a local option for cities to give them more flexibility if they have a community in which they might have a surge in cases,” Hutchinson said. “This model ordinance, from the Municipal League, provides a consistency in approach across the state.”

The executive order comes one day after the state saw a record number of new cases. State health officials on Thursday said at least 22,075 people in the state have tested positive for the virus, an increase of 878 new confirmed cases since Wednesday.

This executive order allows:

Local law enforcement and other city officials to enforce the use of face coverings upon the business’ premises in accordance with public health guidelines.

Local law enforcement and other city officials to act in a support capacity, through enforcement, to educate and encourage members of the public who decline to wear a face covering about the efficacy of wearing such coverings.

Local law enforcement and other city officials to assist in enforcement through education of individuals who decline to comply with the face covering requirement of any local business that the individual must abide by the local business’ mandate or leave the premises.

“Consistency is incredibly important and that is why this model ordinance says that the city is going to require the usage of masks in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Health,” said Arkansas Municipal League General Counsel John Wilkerson.

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