Rockin' Pig Saloon under review for failing to follow mask mandate
By Samantha Jones
Arkansas Beverage Control agents have placed Rockin' Pig Saloon in Eureka Springs under review after the restaurant failed to follow Gov. Asa Hutchinson's safety requirements for dine-in restaurants, according to Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin.
Hutchinson lifted COVID-19 restrictions on dine-in service at Arkansas restaurants on May 11, requiring that restaurant staff wear face coverings at all times and customers wear face coverings until their drink is served.
Hardin wrote in an email on Monday that ABC agents initially visited Rockin' Pig on July 2 and informed the bar's management that the establishment failed inspection as there were employees not wearing masks, along with customers. The agents issued a verbal warning at the time, Hardin wrote.
"Agents again visited the Rockin' Pig on July 30," Hardin wrote. "The issues that were observed July 2 remained consistent and had not been corrected."
Hardin wrote that the reports have been submitted to ABC leadership for review and the ABC director will determine the penalty associated with the alleged violations. There is also a possibility that the Arkansas Department of Health could take action for failure to follow directives, Hardin wrote.
"We anticipate decisions will be reached this week and action taken where appropriate," Hardin wrote. "The Rockin' Pig will have an opportunity to appeal any violations received with a hearing before ABC leadership."
Marshall Johnson, who runs Rockin' Pig Saloon, did not return a message about the restaurant's compliance with the dine-in restaurant regulations.
Hutchinson issued a mandate on July 16 ordering that individuals wear masks covering their mouth and nose in both indoor and outdoor environments when they are in the presence of non-household members and cannot maintain a least six feet of distance. The order includes multiple exemptions, including provisions for children under 10 and individuals with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering.
Academy of Excellence
Principal Patty Sanders said last week that students returning to the Academy of Excellence won't be required to wear masks, saying the school will perform temperature checks in the morning, "lots and lots of hand washing" and routine disinfecting at the end of the day. Faith Christian Family Church lead pastor Chad Hill said the school caters to students from kindergarten to eighth grade, so many of the students are under 10 years old.
"We're monitoring these guidelines daily," Hill said. "We may have to amend and we're open to amending our plan at any point in time."
"At this point, everything's fluid. You never know which direction the governor's going to take things, so we're prepared for whatever comes," Sanders said.
Eureka Springs schools
Being open to change is important for anyone in education, said Eureka Springs Superintendent Bryan Pruitt. Pruitt said the school will require everyone to wear masks — students, staff and visitors. Visitors will be limited to those who must enter the school, Pruitt said, like food and janitorial vendors. Pruitt said the district has purchased washable and disposable masks for everyone, saying students will have a plastic shield around their desks for further protection.
"We've also got disposable gowns for janitors and nurses that could wear those in case we have any kind of sickness issue," Pruitt said. "We're trying to be real cautious and real conscientious of everything. The main thing is to keep that social distancing."
Schools aren't the only place where the mask mandate has been met with different views.
Variety of views
Eureka Springs is a hub for Arkansas tourism, and locals have varied ideas on how the city should adapt to the pandemic with tourists coming in from other cities and states. Chad Manus, who works in the food service industry, wrote on Facebook that Eureka Springs is a "melting pot of tourists coming from nearby states that do not take Coronavirus seriously." Manus wrote that he supports the mask mandate.
"You know how difficult it is riding a bicycle to work, stop at the front door, put my mask on while sweating in this heat, and carry the bike up a flight of stairs?" Manus wrote. "My point is … that it's not fun but my conscience tells me it's the right thing to do so I simply do it without complaint."
Manus wrote that those who feel differently should not "go to a place that is following the mandate and gripe."
"Go elsewhere because service can and will be denied," Manus wrote.
Brenda Collins wrote that she's already doing that.
"I do not support it," Collins wrote of the mask mandate. "I do not go anywhere that they are required."
Tina High wrote that she doesn't support the mandate either. High wrote that mandating masks after four months "is like putting a soiled diaper on a freshly bathed baby."
"They are proven not to work, and why would they be effective after they're worn multiple times, thrown in backpacks, purses, shoved in pockets, hung over car mirrors, gear shifts, shoved in glove boxes and door cubbies without being properly cleaned before uses," High wrote.
Richard McKinley wrote that "most virus is transferred not by touching something, but airborne droplets that masks prevent from leaving your mouth or nose."
Adee Leigh wrote that the mandate should have been in place since March.
"It can save lives," Leigh wrote.
Andrea Colvin wrote that the mandate is the only thing we have to fight against the virus.
"People have to work and make money. People have to go to the grocery store and pharmacy," Colvin wrote. "We have nothing but a mask to protect us. It's not much but I will do anything to protect my family."