Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Friday is he changing his public health directives into public health guidelines, meaning they will no longer be mandatory.Hutchinson said he doesn’t expect Arkansans’ behavior to change and believes they will still follow these guidelines voluntarily.Instead, he thinks the change will give businesses and venues flexibility.The exception is the mask mandate, which will stay in place until March 31 if certain conditions are met. The state will have to have a positivity rate of 10 percent or fewer on a seven-day rolling average. If fewer than 7,500 average daily tests are conducted, the condition will instead be evaluated on the basis of hospitalized patients. Fewer than 750 hospitalized patients will be the threshold.Hutchinson also announced Friday he will extend Arkansas’ public health emergency for 30 more days, leaving his executive orders on pandemic protections in effect for that time. The announcement took place one day before his executive orders declaring a health emergency are set to expire. The governor first declared a state of emergency in March 2020.Follow this link for information on where and how to get a vaccineJanine Parry is a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. She told 40/29 the Emergency Services Act of 1973 is broad when it comes to defining the governor’s powers.”Some statutes like Arkansas don’t say very much, which appears to give the governor more latitude. other states, maybe because of past experiences are more carefully prescribed,” Parry said in an interview earlier this week. “But that’s just the statutory part of it. For Gov. Hutchinson, while he may not have trouble in terms of legal authorization, he may have legislators feeling left out and not consulted.”Republican lawmakers have told 40/29 they are discussed amending that Emergency Services Act.Follow this link for charts and graphs examining the pandemic in Arkansas

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Friday is he changing his public health directives into public health guidelines, meaning they will no longer be mandatory.

Hutchinson said he doesn’t expect Arkansans’ behavior to change and believes they will still follow these guidelines voluntarily.

Instead, he thinks the change will give businesses and venues flexibility.

The exception is the mask mandate, which will stay in place until March 31 if certain conditions are met.

The state will have to have a positivity rate of 10 percent or fewer on a seven-day rolling average. If fewer than 7,500 average daily tests are conducted, the condition will instead be evaluated on the basis of hospitalized patients. Fewer than 750 hospitalized patients will be the threshold.

Hutchinson also announced Friday he will extend Arkansas’ public health emergency for 30 more days, leaving his executive orders on pandemic protections in effect for that time.

The announcement took place one day before his executive orders declaring a health emergency are set to expire.

The governor first declared a state of emergency in March 2020.

Follow this link for information on where and how to get a vaccine

Janine Parry is a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. She told 40/29 the Emergency Services Act of 1973 is broad when it comes to defining the governor’s powers.

“Some statutes like Arkansas don’t say very much, which appears to give the governor more latitude. other states, maybe because of past experiences are more carefully prescribed,” Parry said in an interview earlier this week. “But that’s just the statutory part of it. For Gov. Hutchinson, while he may not have trouble in terms of legal authorization, he may have legislators feeling left out and not consulted.”

Republican lawmakers have told 40/29 they are discussed amending that Emergency Services Act.

Follow this link for charts and graphs examining the pandemic in Arkansas