Businesses respond in different ways to new mask guidance from LDH


LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — More businesses are requiring masks once again as Louisiana leads the country in coronavirus cases per capita and as the Louisiana Department of Health releases new guidelines for indoor activities.

Monday had Louisiana’s second-highest amount of new COVID cases since March of 2020. Walking down Rue Jefferson Street of Downtown Lafayette, it’s a mix of employees and customers choosing to mask up.

Billy Qamhieh owns Right On Fashions. It is one of a few businesses in Lafayette where each employee must wear a mask.

“Freedom has a limit. When my freedom imposes on the freedom of others. It needs to be checked,” Qamhieh argued.

In addition to wearing a mask himself, he also encourages customers to wear masks and provides them if necessary.

“I actually believe and feel that’s it’s very selfish for somebody not to care because you are meeting your parents at home, you have children, you have a wife, you have friends that come to you, so out of social responsibility everybody needs to mask up, and do the right thing. Vaccinate. Vaccinate. That’s the only thing that’s working right now,” Qamhieh pleaded.

In its updated guidance Friday, the Louisiana Department of Health left everything to choice. They said, “All people -regardless of vaccination status- should wear face masks while indoors if six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained,” and “All businesses should review their operations to accommodate employees in a way that reduces unnecessary contact to avoid the spread of COVID in the workplace.”

“That ‘should’ leaves it up to the interpretation,” said Bradley Cruice who owns the Handy Stop Market & Cafe. “We do have employees who wear masks. We have those who are vaccinated, so we are in a good comfortable place.”

Cruice is not requiring masks yet. He said some practices like eliminating dispensers and more frequent disinfection are still in place. Other protocol would not be too difficult to revert to he added.

“We didn’t put those too far away, and some of those routines we’ve kept,” Cruise stated “Certainly, if it turns into a ‘must’, we’ll adhere to those guidelines as we’ve done in the past.”

With two different approaches, both Right On Fashions and Handy Shop Market & Cafe are still following current guidelines to keep the public safe.

Qamhieh concluded, “The more people comply, the sooner we’re going to get out of this mess.”

LDH stated its guidance “will remain in place at least until Louisiana is safely out of its fourth COVID-19 surge, with additional guidance and mitigation measures put in place if and when necessary to slow the spread of the Delta variant and preserve hospital capacity.” It would be up to Governor John Bel Edwards Office to update his phased recovery to mandate any changes.

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