The great mask debate of 2020

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Extension of Phase 2 has some up in arms

On Saturday July 11th, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a mandatory mask requirement for Louisiana and ordered bars in the state closed to on-premises consumption, as the state experiences increasing spread of COVID-19.

The statewide mask mandate applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the most recent two-week period for which data is available could choose to opt out of the mandate. 

The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older except for the following:

  • Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering.
  • Anyone who is consuming a drink or food.
  • Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired.
  • Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience.
  • Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes.
  • Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate.

All bars, including those with food permits from the Louisiana Department of Health, will be closed to on-premises consumption. They can operate for curbside takeout or delivery service only.

The governor also limited indoor social gatherings like wedding receptions, class reunions and parties to 50 total people. With these additional restrictions, Louisiana remains in Phase Two.

Following Gov. Edwards announcement a Haughton restaurant, Swamp Daddy’s, posted a sign on its door stating all people entering the restaurant must wear a mask, but if you have a medical condition preventing you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from the requirement.

The sign also tells customers they will not be asked their medical condition.

A post of the sign was shared on Swamp Daddy’s Facebook page on July 15th. It had garnered more than 285 mixed comments with 280 shares and 355 likes on Facebook by Sunday, July 26.

On Facebook, many fans also posted images and words, showing support for the restaurant. 

One countered with a copy of Louisiana State Law. “‘Louisiana State Law (RS 29:724) gives the Governor authority to set restrictions on gatherings and businesses in the interest of public safety and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These proclamations and declarations have the power of law,’ says a joint statement issued by the Louisiana State Police, the State Fire Marshal, the state Alcohol Tobacco Control, the Louisiana Chiefs of Police and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association.” 

Others countered with words of disapproval. 

Swamp Daddy’s did not return Bossier-Press Tribune’s calls when attempted to be reached for comment.

Bella Sara Pizza and Grill owner, Greg Torres, says that since Gov. Edwards mask mandate took effect, his customers comply with the mandate.

“When the governor said he was going to mandate masks, I haven’t seen a loss of business. Many of our customers who would normally come in have decided to either order their food from a delivery service and have it delivered or they call in their order and come pick it up. If someone comes in to pick up their food and they do not have a mask on, my staff asks the customer to please put on a mask and they do so. We haven’t had any problems with our customers wearing a mask when we ask,” said Torres.