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Judge signs order halting state from taking further action against restaurant over mask violations

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DENHAM SPRINGS - A Livingston Parish judge has signed a restraining order on behalf of Firehouse BBQ temporarily preventing the state from shutting down the restaurant for repeatedly defying the state's coronavirus restrictions.

The order prohibits Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health from taking further action to shut down Firehouse BBQ until after a hearing on Aug. 18.

The restaurant in Denham Springs was given a notice by LDH to close down operations after the department received numerous complaints about the restaurant not following Gov. John Bel Edwards' mask mandate.

LDH started receiving complaints about the restaurant after visitors noticed a sign on their window with the following statement:

Masks NOT REQUIRED NOTICE To All Firehouse BBQ Customers:

The use of masks for extended periods of time during shifts by our employees has caused several medical reactions that are negatively impacting their ability to perform their positions. Since rebreathing their own Carbon Dioxide over a period of time can and has led to symptoms such as migraines and anxiety attacks and other medical conditions. We are no longer requiring employees to wear a mask. The heat and exertion in a restaurant environment also compounds the issue, and must take care of our employees and their health. 

Therefore, customers and employees are given the option to wear a mask or not. It is not mandated in our store. If you have concerns about your health, feel free to call for curbside service and a gloved and masked employee will deliver the food to your vehicle.  

According to Aly Neel from LDH, the department took the time to try and explain to the owner why the mandate and restrictions were in place and gave them a chance to comply. Neel says that if Firehouse BBQ does not close their doors they will be taken to court.     

This is the first time LDH has taken direct action against a restaurant concerning the COVID-19 restrictions.

Firehouse BBQ responded to the notice with a message they posted on Facebook Saturday stating:

Despite the attempted enforcement of an illegal mandate, we are conducting business as usual. Please show your support by dining in or to-go to help us pay for the lawyer that will be fighting for your rights and ours as citizens. Please note that dine-in seating is limited due to the 10' between tables social distancing requirement. If you need curbside service, please call in and indicate so and pay by phone and a temporarily masked and gloved employee will bring your meal to your car. We are open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and we take our last order of the day at 7:45 p.m.


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