By Ray King
Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday announced an executive order mandating the wearing of face coverings in both indoor and outdoor settings when social distancing is not possible. The Governor also said that law enforcement and local officials will be responsible for enforcing the order.
Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said Friday that his officers will not be actively looking for people who are not wearing masks but in the course of their normal duties, if they see people not wearing a mask they will stop and ask they to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth.
Sergeant appeared on the Oldies 101.3 morning show and was asked if officers would respond when contacted by a business who had customers who were not wearing masks and refused to put them on.
Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr., also appeared on the morning show said he understands the reasons for the order but has received messages from other sheriff’s around the state, as well as the executive director of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association expressing concern about enforcing it.
He said that sheriff’s around the state are currently dealing with federal lawsuits from detainees at county jails who are using the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to be released from custody.
Woods said while he supports the idea of the executive order, he thinks the state needed to do a better job in trying to encourage the use of masks rather than mandating them.
He also said it was unlikely that deputies would respond if a business reported that customers were not wearing masks.