Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday announced vaccine eligibility has been opened to all Arkansans age 16 and older, and that the statewide mask mandate has been lifted.
1,153,739 doses have been administered in Arkansas to-date, Hutchinson said, citing CDC figures.
Hutchinson clarified the lifting of the mandate does not mean the use of the masks will end. The governor asked residents to respect the decisions of others in regards to masks.
State employees will continue to be required to wear masks, should they be unable to practice social distancing, according to the governor. However, hotels, restaurants and other businesses will make individual decisions about whether they will require their patrons to wear masks.
Schools also may opt to continue to continue mask mandates and will be voted on by the local boards, Hutchinson said.
The board of the state Department of Corrections opted to continue mask wearing in congregate settings, he said.
Hospitals will require masks to be worn and many health care providers will continue to require masks to be worn, Hutchinson added.
He cautioned residents not to assume we’re “out of the woods” with the pandemic. There have been an increased number of variants found in Arkansas, and precautions are still necessary, the governor added.
“We want to make sure we stay in the right direction by taking these steps,” Hutchinson said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health officials will provide an update on Arkansas' covid-19 response at 1:30 p.m.
The total number of coronavirus cases reported in Arkansas remained at 330,008 Tuesday morning, according to a state website. The death toll remained at 5,601.
According to state health officials, a total of 1,096,134 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered.
Check back to watch the live video.