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Arkansas's statewide mask mandate ending, effective March 30

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Hutchinson announced he was lifting the mask mandate across Arkansas, effective immediately.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In a press briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Hutchinson announced he was lifting the mask mandate across Arkansas.

The governor pointed the previous guidelines he had made for lifting the mask mandate, which included:

  • "A value below 10% combined PCR and antigen positivity rate (7-day rolling average) with at least 7,500 specimens tested on average daily would be actionable."
  • "If testing is below 7,500 specimen daily, then the number of hospitalized patients would serve as the indicator for action. Fewer than 750 patients hospitalized statewide for COVID-19 would be the trigger."

The governor acknowledges the state has reached all of these goals, and therefore, the mandate is being lifted. 

"This does not mean that the use of the mask will cease," Gov. Hutchinson added.

Hutchinson explained his own mask will be a part of his wardrobe as he continues to go to work everyday. He explained that, while he is vaccinated, it's important to be courteous to others. He noted this as "common sense."

The governor then asked the public to please respect the decision of certain businesses/institutions that have the right to require masks:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Government Buildings
  • Salons & Barbershops
  • Stores
  • Event Venues
  • Schools -- that opt to continue mask policy
  • Department of Corrections
  • Hospitals & Healthcare Providers

All state employees are still required to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.

Many Arkansans wonder what this means for public schools. 

Commissioner Johnny Key with the Dept. of Education said each district can make the decision on whether they want to continue having a mask policy at the local level. 

Each district's school board has to take action. 

"Districts have to publish their plan for continued safe operation on their website as a requirement of the federal American Rescue Plan," said Key. 

Key said each district's plan must be posted by April 15 and a public hearing is also required.  

"Please be respectful and mindful that, while the mask mandate is lifted, there will be many that will continue to wear it; many businesses will continue to require it," Gov. Hutchinson said. "Be respectful of that. And if you don't want to comply with that, then you have options to go somewhere else."

Watch Gov. Hutchinson's full press briefing here: