Conway ends mask mandate; reaction from residents mixed

After Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s announcement to end Arkansas’ mask mandate Tuesday afternoon, cities are now deciding whether or not to continue their own mandates.

Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry said he ended the city’s mask order following the direction of the governor. He also commended Hutchinson’s leadership throughout the pandemic.

“When [Hutchinson] felt like it was time to stop that mandate, then we did the same,” Castleberry said.

Castleberry thinks that city’s low number of cases and percentage of vaccinated residents are promising enough to let businesses and Conway citizens to decide for themselves. But the decision has been met with some pushback from residents.

Good comments have come from people like Frankie Adams, who is supportive of ending the mandate.

“We still got to be safe because the [virus] is still out there,” Adams said. “But besides that, it’s a good thing we had the mask [mandate] lifted.”

Castleberry said a person can receive a trespassing citation for refusing to wear a mask in a business that requires it. But he’s hopeful that won’t happen.

“If you choose wear a mask, that’s great,” he said. “If you choose not to wear a mask, that’s great. Just, everyone, please be respectful of each other and we’ll get back to normal and get on with business. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

But the mandate could still come back. Castleberry said that if cases go back up, he’ll meet with city officials and reevaluate what’s best for Conway.

There are cities in Arkansas that are keeping their mandates in place. Some of those include Little Rock, Fayetteville, and Rogers.

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