Masks required in La. as of Monday; Bars forced to close down
BATON ROUGE - As of Monday, masks will be required for nearly everyone in Louisiana and bars will close.
The governor announced tougher restrictions in a news conference Saturday after a concerning increase in coronavirus in Louisiana.
“Our hospitals are full,” doctors said during a news conference Saturday afternoon.
New mandates announced Saturday include a mask requirement for people older than 8-years-old and without a health condition that would be exacerbated by wearing a mask; Bars will be closed but can provide curbside service; Gatherings are limited to 50 people.
Occupancy limits remain at phase 2 conditions.
“We all have to wear a mask,” doctors said, “by doing that, we protect our communities… each other,” they said.
“We know face masks work,” Governor John Bel Edwards said, adding that he knows the decision will be unpopular but is needed to avoid further restrictions, including returning to the so-called phase 1 reopening.
The governor said the mask mandate is for indoors and outdoors when you "can't be physically distant from others," insinuating that you should wear a mask if you're not more than 6 feet away from others, even outside.
The state will put enforcement on the burden of businesses, who should ask customers and employees to wear a mask, the governor said.
"We're not going to be out there with a goal to write citations, we want people to comply, businesses to make a real effort," the governor said.
"If [people] don't wear a mask [at businesses], they should be asked to leave; If they don't leave, then they're trespassing," the governor said, in a discussion about enforcement.
However, churches are exempt from enforcement, though the governor suggested people wear a mask at religious services.
The governor said citations or fines would not be the first level of compliance and would elaborate later, before Monday.
The governor said masks and curbing the spread is required to re-open schools and universities later in August.
The governor said state health officials tracking outbreaks have found bars have contributed to many cases but so has outdoor, backyard family-like gatherings such as bar-b-ques for wedding or baby showers and parties. Click HERE for known outbreak information.
Doctors said the surge in positive coronavirus patients was unexpected earlier this summer when the state moved into phase 2 from phase 1.
Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz