Mask ordinance proposed for Jonesboro

Mask ordinance proposed for Jonesboro
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Two Jonesboro council members requested a mask ordinance be forwarded to the public safety committee; the first step in making masks a requirement, a reality.

The proposed ordinance announced in Tuesday night’s city council meeting was created by Ann Williams of Ward 3, Position 1, and LJ Bryant of Ward 5, Position 2.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a model ordinance drafted by him and the Arkansas Municipal League on July 3.

On Monday, the City of Jonesboro told Region 8 News it does not plan to adopt the governor’s ordinance at this time. However, the mayor’s office says it does encourage mask-wearing.

Just a day later, several council members say something has to be done and that the ordinance is a step in the right direction.

Several Jonesboro citizens spoke up--including a physician who works in an ER.

“We need to get the message across that you need to wear a mask in public. It’s for your safety, your safety, your safety and all of the people who do not have the disease,” physician who has been working in the emergency room during the pandemic, Steven Blanchard said.

He was also backed by another citizen.

“Wearing facial covering makes a difference and I would support our government urging folks to do that. Send that message,” Jonesboro citizen Tom Haynes said.

Both saying the city must act now or regret it later.

But, for one council member, his concern is the enforcement. John Street said our police department is already stretched thin and having them go out to calls about those not wearing a mask is going to be taxing on the department.

“If we want to pass a resolution or ordinance to say it would be nice to wear a mask; I’m all for that too. I’ll wear mine. But, we can’t do anything to somebody who chooses not to and that’s what’s aggravating to me. There’s no way we can put any teeth to it,” council member, John Street said.

Councilman Bobby Long says the council needs to take its time with this ordinance given the number of people it will affect. He believes they should be given the chance to weigh in.

“At least give them an opportunity to voice their either approval or their opposition,” Long said.

As the proposed ordinance makes its first stop at the public safety committee, Committee Chairman Mitch Johnson says once he receives the ordinance, he will work to schedule a special called meeting as early as this week.

Otherwise, the next Public Safety Committee meets again on July 21 at 5 p.m.

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