LAFAYETTE, La. (From Lafayette Consolidated Government)- With a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in Lafayette Parish, it’s especially important for business owners and managers to remain vigilant and compliant with Governor Edwards’ Phase Two order to protect employees and patrons.
Mayor-President Josh Guillory, Lafayette Fire Department (LFD) Chief Robert Benoit and Lafayette Police Department (LPD) Interim Police Chief Scott Morgan remind every business in the City of Lafayette to follow official Phase Two guidelines.
“We continue to conduct random inspections and also follow up on all complaints of businesses not in compliance,” Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit said.
LFD is monitoring capacity and ensuring all employees are wearing masks as directed in the Governor’s order, and giving guidance when improvements are needed to comply.
Downtown Capacity & Enforcement
Downtown presents different challenges on weekends, when more than 1,000 people are in bars and overflowing into the streets on Friday nights and more than 3,000 on Saturday nights. Police officers patrolling Jefferson Street alert the Fire Department when suspecting a business is over capacity and will assist in crowd control.
Over the past two weekends, the fire department found two downtown bars overcapacity, one by more than 100 people.
“We’re not trying to shut down anyone. Our main concern is safety. We speak to the manager to find out if they have an accurate count, and we do a site assessment,” Lafayette Fire Department Public Information Officer Alton Trahan said. “If they’re found to be overcapacity, the establishment is ordered to close for the night. Ultimately, if we’re called out a third time, we have the authority to pull their certificate of occupancy.”
Chief Benoit said as more people are interacting with each other, there’s an increased risk of spreading COVID-19. He stressed the importance of businesses and citizens to comply with guidelines. “We ask the public to please comply with the orders so that we can get through this.”
Overflow crowds on sidewalks outside establishments is challenging for police officers, but Chief Morgan advised, “Although you have a right to be on the sidewalk, and we legally support that, you have to use good judgment, have good moral behavior and practice social distancing if we’re going to overcome this pandemic. Don’t promote the spread of the virus and stay home if it’s not essential for you to be out.”
Phase Two capacity reminder for business owners
- Capacity restrictions should be applied per room, not just the entire building.
- 50 percent capacity for restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, microbreweries, and bars with LDH food service certificates.
- One person per 30 square feet of gross area
- 25 percent capacity for bars and nightclubs without LDH food service certificates.
- One person per 60 square feet of gross area, or 25 percent of the posted capacity by order of the State Fire Marshal