Arkansas judge blocks state from enforcing law banning mask mandates by schools, governmental bodies

An Arkansas judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state from enforcing its ban on mask mandates after lawmakers left the prohibition in place despite a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox issued a preliminary injunction against the law that Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed in April banning mask requirements by governmental entities. The ban was being challenged by two lawsuits, including one from an east Arkansas school district where more than 900 staff and students are quarantining because of a coronavirus outbreak.

Fox ruled against the measure on multiple grounds, including the argument that it discriminated between public and private schools.

The law “cannot be enforced in any shape, fashion or form” pending further court action, Fox said.

Fox issued the ruling hours after lawmakers adjourned a special session that Hutchinson had called to consider rolling back the ban for some schools. Hutchinson had said the change was needed to protect children under 12 who can’t get vaccinated as the state’s virus cases and hospitalizations skyrocket. – READ MORE

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