At the time of interview, Arkansas did not have an active mArkansassk mandate. How many people are wearing masks really depends. If a business requests it, it’s around 75%. If it doesn’t, it’s probably closer to 40-50%.
Outdoors, it’s around 10% max.
Public schools shut down Spring 2020 and returned Fall 2021 with virtual and hybrid options. Our three kids have been fully in-person all year. The current school situation (as of May 2021) is virtual, hybrid, and in-person, depending on the school. Private schools here, as well as one more progressive charter (Haas Hall), were more likely to go virtual while public and traditional charters were focused on in-person.
Two weeks during the Fall semester for our charter. Other schools around the state, regardless of type, have experienced similar short disruptions. Most have been able to offer full in-person the entire year.
In 2020, they were briefly limited to 25% capacity. They went to 66% June 15, 2020, and are now at 100%. Masks, social distancing, etc. are now at the discretion of the restaurant. Theoretically, the restrictions were followed, but the six feet rule always seemed to be closer to four feet in practice. There is no regulatory distinction between indoor and outdoor dining restrictions.
Religious services were cancelled in April 2020 and have only now (in May 2021) resumed. Arkansas never had government restrictions. Here are how a handful of different churches in the state responded:
- The state encouraged churches to offer online options and post cautionary signage for those 65 and older.
- Our Episcopal parish: Resumed in May. Masks and reservations required. No singing. Only families can sit together. Social distancing mandatory. Bread but no wine.
- My mom’s Presbyterian Church: Resumed in May. Masks and social distancing mandatory. No singing. No children’s services.
- My dad’s Episcopal parish: Resumed in April. Masks required. So few members that social distancing protocols unnecessary. Bread but no wine.
- Local Nondenominational: Never stopped meeting. Masks and social distancing while state required them. Kept singing. Had Christmas pageant. Sunday School never stopped.
- Local Reformed Church: Never stopped in person, but did add Facebook Live. Halted Sunday School and fellowship lunches until last Fall. Masks were encouraged, but not required. Experienced zero cases.
Briefly closed, but reopened on a limited capacity May 18, 2020. Audiences limited to 50 or fewer with masks and social distancing required. Private rentals available for $99-149. 20 or fewer viewers. All seats are available, though when we last went to the movies we had the theater to ourselves for the cost of three tickets.
Playgrounds and sport fields were kept closed too long. It was a weird thing that the state focused on. Kids were “allowed” to practice and whatnot, but the fields remained technically closed, goals zip tied up, slides caution taped up, swings removed, etc. Playgrounds and fields just recently really reopened, months after they were allowed to, though the police never really cared about trespassing at any point. As a state, we obviously decided that kids weren’t at risk, but we also refused to let go of the symbol of keeping outdoor activities locked down, even as we said they were fine.
Another random point, at least in Bentonville, Arkansas, food trucks were always allowed to operate. During the peak of regulations, they were supposed to close, but the local PD decided they were outdoors and they were going to look the other way. (I can’t prove this via an on-the-record officer, but a friend and former neighbor who is an officer told me that was their strategy, so I can prove it anecdotally, for what it’s worth. Also, I realize I’m reporting from Rogers, but it’s all one MSA.)
Lastly, while our kids’ school officially has a mask policy, our 8-year-old has told us she never has to wear the mask in the classroom. The 11-year-old does some. The 13-year-old has to wear it most of the time. We appreciate that at least two of the three can take them off during the day.