101 Town Center, P.O. Box 5655, Bella Vista, AR 72714 (479)876-1255

Mayor issues statement on face covering order

Monday, July 20, 2020

To Bella Vista residents and visitors:

On July 16, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued an order for the Secretary of Health to issue a directive regarding the requiring of face coverings. Existing Arkansas state law says that directives of the Secretary of Health are to be followed, therefore the wearing of masks is enforceable as law. The mandate says that all individuals must wear a face covering in all indoor and outdoor settings when exposed to non-household members and the distancing of six feet cannot be maintained, with certain exceptions. This directive goes into effect today – July 20 – and can be found online here.

I strongly encourage the public to do what they can to slow the spread of coronavirus and protect their families and others, and wearing a face covering in public has been proven to be effective.

We all need to work together. While face coverings aren’t meant for protecting the wearer, they are meant to protect those nearby the wearer, who might have at home an infant, an elderly parent in their care, or some other family member who is immunocompromised. It is a small ask for a hugely important cause.

I ask members of our community to please refrain from calling our police if the only violation witnessed is the absence of a mask. The Bella Vista Police Department’s primary focus will continue to be the safety and welfare of our residents and visitors. While our officers will do what they are able to ensure those they come in contact with are following the Health Department’s directive, each individual person has a responsibility for themselves. There could be a valid reason why someone is not wearing a mask, including an existing medical condition you may not be aware of.

Businesses have every right to ask that patrons wear a mask and ask those patrons to leave if they refuse. Our officers will continue to respond as necessary to situations that may arise from anyone being disruptive to the community because of this. If an individual is refused entry to a business because they aren’t wearing a mask and then causes a disturbance, they may be subject to appropriate police action.

Be mindful of others, as it is impossible to know what every other person’s specific situation is. This is a time to put aside differences and disagreements and consider your neighbors. This is a time for the community to come together and remain civil and kind as we move toward a brighter future beyond this virus. Please remember that the recommendation from authorities that wearing a mask will help slow or even stop the spread of this virus comes from those whose job it is to know exactly those things and is aimed at protecting one another. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and patience through these trying times.

Mayor Peter Christie