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Mayor's office says ATC will honor opt-in status for EBR, bars can open immediately

4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 September 30, 2020 7:24 AM September 30, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - After a bizarre back-and-forth between the mayor's office and parish council, bars will apparently be able to reopen Wednesday.

The spat began after the parish announced it received approval from the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to open up bars under phase 3 restrictions early Wednesday afternoon.

However, the move to open bars back up seemingly stalled after the East Baton Rouge Metro Council did not pass an item approving the move to reopen. Seven council members were present for the virtual meeting. Six voted in favor of the reopening, with the seventh member abstaining, meaning the council did not meet the seven-vote majority needed to successfully pass the item.

While the mayor said her office already received approval from the state, the parish attorney argued that the council is the governing body and has sole power to make the call for the parish.

"If the council did not vote to approve, it is the parish attorney's belief then that there is no authority to reopen the bars," Parish Attorney Andy Dotson said during the virtual meeting.

The situation was further complicated when the mayor disputed the parish attorney, arguing that she has the power to opt in to reopening bars. 

A statement released by the mayor's office later that evening said ATC would honor the parish's opt-in status, paving the way for bars to open immediately. 

You can read the full statement below. 

"Commissioner Legier of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control just informed our office they will continue to recognize the opt-in status for East Baton Rouge Parish, as requested earlier this week by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, saying:

'The agency is comfortable having received the request for opt in from the mayor’s office. The approval will not be rescinded.'

Bars can immediately operate under eased restrictions, as outlined by ATC."

East Baton Rouge is the latest parish to meet the state requirements, which mandated a coronavirus positivity rate below five percent for two consecutive weeks before bars could reopen. 

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