Arkansas governor: Removal of coronavirus restrictions an 'off-ramp'

Arkansas Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink Sunday shows - Manchin says he won't vote for .5 trillion bill GOP governor: Biden's vaccine mandate 'increases the division' MORE (R), one of several governors from both parties to announce a reversal of coronavirus restrictions, defended his decision Sunday, saying he viewed the rollback in his state as an “off-ramp” that could be adjusted if infections spike.

“Our businesses have taken the right measures… there’s just a difference to how much the restrictions can be placed on business and for how long,” Hutchinson said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They’ve struggled, they’ve suffered and so we want to give more flexibility.”

“It’s not the immediate ending of everything, we still have our guidelines in place and actually there’s an incentive to keep control of facilities because that gives you business tort liability immunity if you follow some of those guidelines … our mask mandate is in place until the end of the month,” he added.  “We didn’t want a cliff, I wanted an off-ramp.”

Despite the imminent end of the mask mandate, the governor said face coverings are likely “going to be with us for some time, but at some point we need to rely on common sense and good judgment versus mandates and particularly when it comes to our businesses.”

Host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBiden vaccine mandate puts McConnell, GOP leaders in a tough spot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink Breyer says term limits would 'make life easier for me' MORE noted that the steps Arkansas and other states are taking contradict guidance from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If you relied simply upon strict public health guidelines, they would love to have a shelter-in-place for a year, which we cannot do as a society,” Hutchinson replied. “That’s the reason we have a ramp… if we see the cases spike up, if we see the hospitalizations go up, then we can re-institute the mask mandate because it’s a ramp, it goes to March 31.”

“If it goes the wrong direction, we can take the steps necessary, but people have to have hope,” he added. “This has been a year and we have to give them hope.”

Several other states have announced the imminent or immediate reversal of some or all of their restrictions, including Texas, Mississippi and California.