Hutchinson wants ‘off-ramp’ not ‘cliff’ to end mask mandate

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Gov. Asa Hutchinson removes his mask before a briefing at the state capitol Monday‚ July 2020 in Little Rock. As more states are enacting requirements for people to wear masks to curb a surge of coronavirus cases, they’re facing resistance from the police expected to enforce those orders. Several law enforcement agencies in Arkansas have said they won’t enforce Hutchinson’s mask mandate that took effect this week. (Staci Vandagriff/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gov. Asa Hutchinson says residents will be required to wear masks in public through at least the end of the month, but health officials are developing criteria for when to lift the measure aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Hutchinson told “Fox News Sunday” that he loosened restrictions on businesses but wanted a gradual approach to face coverings. He said he would consult with state health officials before lifting the mask mandate, but said when it does happen that he trusts the public to make the decision that’s right for them.

“People can protect themselves. If you go out and people aren’t wearing a mask, keep your distance from them. You wear a mask. If you have a restaurant that’s not following the guidelines, well go to a restaurant that is following guidelines,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “People can make good decisions.”

This contrasts to the swift rollbacks of mast mandates in the neighboring states of Texas and Mississippi. The Republican governor said, “we wanted an off-ramp, we didn’t want a cliff.”

Health experts say masking is among the most effective ways to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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