Questions remain on Little Rock mask mandate despite mayor’s declaration

Investigates

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – When the state-wide mask mandate was lifted in Arkansas Tuesday, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced he extended the mask mandate in Little Rock for another 30 days.

The city’s history with this kind of mandate stretches back to last summer. On June 25, 2020, Scott signed a Declaration of Local Emergency requiring masks in all public buildings in the city where 6 feet of social distance was not possible.

That order was an extension of his Emergency Proclamation on March 12, 2020.

Under state law, a local disaster emergency cannot be extended beyond 120 days without the consent of the “governing body,” which in Little Rock’s case is the Board of Directors.  

On Wednesday, city leaders contested that the 120-day period should start on March 26, 2020, when Scott signed an amended executive order. That would put Little Rock’s mask mandate ending on July 24, 2020.

On July 16, 2020, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an Executive Order setting a state-wide mask mandate. Part of that Executive Order allows cities and counties to issue local ordinances dealing with masks.

When asked about the discrepancy, mayor’s office spokeswoman Stephanie Jackson said the state mask mandate covered Little Rock. Jackson said more details would be discussed at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

During the press conference, Scott noted he wanted to correct wrong information about the city’s mask mandate.

“There was some misinformation, some wrong information that was shared earlier today. We want to ensure that there’s always accurate information shared in regards to the mask mandate and the city of Little Rock’s authority through our state of city emergency,” Scott said.

The city attorney’s office then announced the mayor had signed a new order setting up another mask mandate. Scott said he will reevaluate that order every 30 days.

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