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Gov. Hutchinson ends statewide mask mandate in Arkansas, opens vaccine eligibility to those 16+

Gov. Asa Hutchinson ends the statewide mask mandate in Arkansas, those 16+ are now eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday (March 30) he would be lifting the statewide mask mandate effective immediately. This comes after a vote to extend the Covid-19 emergency declaration in the state. 

Hutchinson has stated several times that he would be lifting the mandate as cases continue to slow in the state over the last month.

In February, Hutchinson announced changes to most health directives for businesses to be non-mandatory guidance. 

RELATED: Explainer: Gov. Asa Hutchinson's changes to the COVID-19 public health directives

RELATED: Full text: Read Arkansas's face mask order

Private businesses will still be able to require customers to wear a face mask on their property in Arkansas. The federal mask mandate enforced during public travel and inside federal buildings will still supersede state and local rules. Schools across Arkansas will still be able to enforce mask mandates in their districts.

Credit: ADH

Following the American Rescue Plan Act, Arkansas school districts must post for parents a general public plan for the safe continuation of in-person learning and continuity of services. These plans must be posted by April 15 and each district should receive public comment to help modify the plan for summer and fall.

Credit: ADH
Arkansas schools contact tracing and quarantine guidelines

Mercy Arkansas locations will still require masks in all locations of its hospitals and clinics, Jennifer Cook, Senior Medial Relations and Communications Specialist at Mercy, told 5NEWS. 

The governor says cities across the state can still adopt mask ordinances at this time. Hutchinson says he is still allowing this because he does not want to make any executive orders regarding mandates at this time.

He says he does not see another statewide mask mandate being enacted in the future due to the lower number of Covid-19 cases in the state.

Hutchinson also announced effective immediately, Arkansans age 16 and up are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. Arkansas will receive around 25,000 additional doses of the vaccine this week.

Please check back for updates to this developing story. 

RELATED: Fayetteville could still require face masks even if governor lifts statewide mandate next week

RELATED: Bentonville School Board votes to continue mask mandate for students