GOP governor: Time for 'heavy-handed' COVID-19 restrictions to fall by the 'wayside'

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonOne bipartisan remedy to the wave of anti-LGBTQ legislative attacks? passing the Equality Act Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Arkansas governor says mandates are increasing vaccine hesitancy MORE said on Sunday that it is time for “heavy-handed” coronavirus restrictions and mandates to fall by the “wayside” as his state prepares to lift its mask mandate at the end of March.

On CBS's "Face the Nation," host Margaret Brennan asked Hutchinson why he would decide to lift the mask mandate given the apparent hesitation among many of the people in Arkansas.

"Well, because we need to continue to wear a mask, socially distance until we get the vaccine widely accepted, but you can do that two ways. One is by a mandate, or you can do it by public common sense," Hutchinson said.

"I think the time in this pandemic for heavy-handed restrictions and mandates are going by the wayside so people can make good judgments," he added. "And we expect that to happen even after March 31 if the mask mandate is lifted."

Brennan also noted there is a higher degree of vaccine hesitancy among younger Republicans, with Hutchinson acknowledging that the resistance could be troubling in his state, which has voted for the Republican presidential candidate in nine of the past 12 elections.

"We are seeing that problem, and the poll numbers are troubling because in Arkansas, it's a very pro-Trump state in terms of the last election," Hutchinson said. "And so we see that resistance. Whenever we are opening up eligibility for the vaccine, we're moving through it very quickly because we're not having everybody sign up to take it."

Hutchinson stressed that his government would wait until the end of the month and look at the data to see whether he would lift the mask mandate.