Law professor says mayor or governor could require face masks, but their current orders only suggest them.
NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — There is a lot of science that suggests wearing a face covering is one of the most effective things we can all do to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
Visitors at New Orleans City Park told WWL-TV, masks are important especially now, when new COVID cases are once again on the rise in Louisiana.
“I feel like we should take all precautions in order to prevent another spike from happening,” Malachi Goodman said.
“I think something as simple as wearing a mask and I’ve heard comparisons to wearing a seatbelt should be second nature at this point and going forward,” Rob Wallace said.
“It’s kind of hard to breathe,” Danielle Banks said. “It’s kind of hard to talk. If this is the new normal, we just have to get accustomed to it.”
But Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she sees too many people not wearing masks as she travels across the city.
“Our visitors aren’t covering up,” Cantrell said. “But, then as a move through the community, I saw, hey our people aren’t covering up either. This is mandatory in the city of New Orleans.”
So, can you be fined or jailed for not wearing a mask?
Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino said the short answer is yes and no.
“If you are server at an indoor restaurant, you’ve got to have a mask on,” Ciolino said. “It’s a shall, you could go to jail for not having one on.”
Ciolino points out other parts of the mayor’s emergency proclamation only suggest people wear face coverings.
“People walking down a street or walking through or city park, those people are told that they should wear a mask,” Ciolino said. “They’re also told that they shouldn’t leave home unless it’s necessary. Those are the should, the suggestions in the mayor’s proclamation.”
Ciolino added, both the mayor and Governor John Bel Edwards do have the authority to require everyone on the street or in a business to wear a face covering.
Wednesday, the governor made another appeal for people to voluntarily put on a mask.
“One of the best tools of defense at our disposal is wearing a mask,” Edwards said. “When you wear a mask, you’re a good neighbor. You’re doing that to protect yourself, you’re doing it to protect the other people who are around you.”
The governor was asked whether he intended to require face coverings across the state. He said local governments can impose stricter mandates.
“They can do things that are more restrictive than what I put in place through my proclamation,” Edwards said. “They can’t be less restrictive.”
Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia have orders in place requiring face masks.