by staff reporter Nora Drenner
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today, Saturday, July 11, a mandatory mask requirement for all Louisianans ages eight and up, whether indoors or outdoors. He encourages masks for children ages two to seven. The new rule goes into effect Monday, July 13.
Those exempt from the mask mandate are those who have a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering; those consuming drink or food; those communicating with a deaf person; those giving a speech or broadcast to an audience; and anyone temporarily removing the mask for identification.
Gov. Edwards also said parish government officials can opt their parish out of the mandate if the parish COVID-19 rate is below the current threshold recommended by health officials. He also noted only three parishes currently meet that standard according to the Louisiana Department of Health: Grant, Red River and West Feliciana.
Additionally, Gov. Edwards also limited indoor social gatherings such as wedding receptions, class reunions and parties to no more than 50 folks. The crowd size limitation does not apply to those businesses deemed essential as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or any businesses and organizations operating at 50 percent capacity under the current phase two restrictions including churches and other faith-based organizations.
Bars are also ordered to close on-premises consumption, however, curbside delivery is allowed.
Gov. Edwards’ rational for the statewide mandate is the increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly among children and those under the age of 40.
The new mandate which is an addition to the current phase two proclamation will remain in effect until July 24 but could be extended, said Gov. Edwards.
In the news conference, Gov. Edwards said, “Cases in Louisiana continue to increase, including setting a record-high number of new cases reported in one day, today and yesterday. More than two thousand new COVID infections reported each of these days and increased hospitalizations are signs that we continue to go in the wrong direction in our work to control COVID-19 in our state.”
He continued, “ While I had hoped to avoid going backwards on restrictions, it is obvious that it is necessary to slow the spread of infection in our state, as COVID-19 has spread to every corner, at a level higher than we have previously seen. This is why I am now mandating face coverings statewide, and also closing all bars in Louisiana to on-premises consumption, in addition to putting in limits on the size of indoor gatherings,”
Gov. Edwards concluded. “Right now, all Louisianans need to work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing their face masks, keeping social distance, washing their hands frequently and staying at home when they are feeling sick. These are reasonable expectations while we fight to reduce the spread of the illness in our state. This approach also gives us the best possible chance to again flatten the curve without moving back to Phase One.”