Gov. Edwards closes bars, mandates mask usage for those over 8 years of age

Coronavirus

UPDATE: Gov. John Bel Edwards has updated Phase 2 guidelines to include mandatory public mask wearing for any person over the age of eight and will close all bars in the state starting Monday.

To download and view the official mandate, go here:

Edwards said that as of now, the state is not reverting to Phase 1. The state will remain in Phase 2 until at least July 24, when the situation will be re-examined.

Mask usage is mandatory for all those age eight and older with the following exceptions:

  • If there is a medical condition that affects breathing, making it a problem to wear a mask
  • If consuming food or drink
  • If trying to communicate with a hearing-impaired individual
  • If giving a public speech or addressing a group
  • If needing to identify yourself to someone
  • If you’re living in a parish that is allowed to opt out. Only three parishes are being allowed to opt-out of the new order — Grant, Red River, and West Feliciana. Those three fall below the threshold of 100 new cases per 100,000 people. No others will be allowed to opt-out.

As of 12:01 a.m. Monday morning, all bars — whether they serve food or not — will be closed to patrons with the exception of curbside pickup.

As of today, Louisiana ranks third in the nation for cases per capita. Edwards said that the state had fallen to 10th as recently as June 19.

Indoor social gatherings are limited to 50 people or less. Outdoor gatherings do not have a limit, but are required to social distance from one another. Retail establishments can continue to adhere to the Phase 2 requirements for occupancy — they do not have to limit to 50 people as long as masks are worn. The mandate also does not affect churches, though Edwards said he hoped people would still wear masks.

Edwards said he knows the new guidelines will not be popular with some people, but said it must be done because it is “the right thing to do.”

ENFORCEMENT

When asked what officials would do to enforce the new mandates, Edwards said business owners would be responsible for asking patrons to wear their masks. If a person does not mask up, they can be asked to leave, and if they don’t leave, they can be cited for trespassing.

Business owners themselves can be cited if their employees are not wearing masks or enforcing the mask mandate within stores.

While he did not say specifically what a citation against a business owner would be, Edwards stressed that citations are not the goal. The first effort, he said, will always be to obtain compliance from the people involved.

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ORIGINAL POST: BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — As Louisiana enters yet another day of 2,000+ new COVID-19 cases, Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a 2:30 p.m. press conference.

According to the Daily Advertiser, Edwards will announce new COVID restrictions that will include a public mask mandate.

Edwards is also expected to announce new restrictions on bars.

Edwards, a Democrat, has resisted tightening restrictions since he moved the state into Phase 2, but cases and hospitalizations have risen at an alarming rate in July.

The state is now No. 5 in per capita cases in the nation.

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