Senators in Arkansas have passed a bill forbidding the government to implement mask mandates in the future.
The Arkansas Senate on March 31 passed a new legislation sponsored by Republican Senator Trent Garner. Named SB 590, the new bill "to end mandatory face covering requirements in the state of Arkansas and to declare an emergency" was made to prevent the governor or executive departments from declaring mask mandates in the future.
The legislation passed the Senate with a 20-9 vote, with three Republican senators voting against it. The Senate also voted 27-7 to declare SB 590 an emergency, which requires that this bill be effective immediately as soon as it is signed into law.
The Blaze reported that the bill is now on its way to the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee, which is led by Republican Rep. Jack Ladyman. The report adds that the legislature sessions have been extended this year in the midst of a national crisis as Americans' rights are being "smoldering in the ash of executive tyranny" and being smothered by "false legalities and science undergirding COVID fascism."
The bill permanently banning mask mandates hopes to set an example for the rest of the country that is now being inoculated. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson took to Twitter to report that there are as little as 84 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, numbers that he called "promising."
Among the counties with the most vaccination rates are Franklin County and Cleveland County with 19.8% each, Woodruff County with 18.6%, Clay County with 18.5%, Desha County with 18.3%, as per Arkansas Online.
With inoculation in full swing and rates of COVID-19 infection going down, more and more people are getting ready to take off their masks. Critics of the current administration are arguing that these masks were terribly ineffective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 anyway.
In fact, Arkansas had the same epidemiological curve as three of its neighboring states that did not have statewide mask mandates, namely Missouri, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. Moreover, Louisiana, which had a mask mandate that was implemented for a longer period of time, had even more deaths per capita than Arkansas.
Now, people in Arkansas are celebrating the bill permanently banning mask mandates from the state. In Fort Smith, they've taken to the streets and show a symbolic gesture to the end of the mask mandates. After Arkansas lifted the statewide mask mandate and handed over such regulations to local businesses, one local company hosted a "mask burning" event to celebrate, WRAL reported.
Arkansas locals gathered at the Fort Smith Brewing Company to throw their face coverings into a bonfire. The owner of the brewing company Quentin Willard said that while the pandemic should not be discounted, people should have the right to decide whether they want to wear a mask.
"Any time you let each individual make choices for themselves they can more adequately address the problems that are facing them and can make the right choices and positively create the environment that they're trying to make for their customers," Willard explained.