FAQ: Statewide mask mandate begins on Monday, July 13
(WAFB/KALB) - On Saturday, July 11, 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statewide mask mandate for all parishes, except those with lower COVID-19 numbers. The mandate will begin Monday, July 13. The mandate is for both indoors (and outdoors if you are unable to social distance.)
Several parishes had already issued mask mandates.
Q: Do all children have to wear a face mask?
A: Children under the age of 8 do not have to wear a mask. However, the CDC does recommend children as young as 2-years-old should also wear a face mask. It is not recommended for those under 2.
Q: If I have a breathing or medical condition, do I have to wear a mask?
Q: What parishes are allowed to opt out of the mask mandate?
A: Grant, Red River and West Feliciana
Q: Do I need to wear a face covering outdoors?
A: Face coverings are required inside all commercial and nonprofit entities in the city-parish providing goods or services directly to the public. Face coverings should also be worn in outdoor group settings, where social distancing is not feasible.
Q: Do I need to wear a face covering in restaurants, coffee shops, dining areas, food courts, bars, and night clubs?
A: Face coverings are not required while eating and drinking. They should be worn when entering, exiting, or while in a common area in all establishments.
Q: Do I need to wear a face covering while at a gym or fitness center?
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS’ OFFICE:
Today (July 11), 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 Governor also limited all indoor mass gatherings to 50 total people.
The statewide mask mandate, which will allow for parishes without high COVID-19 incidence to opt out if they choose, and bar closures go into effect Monday, July 13 at 12:01 a.m., per a revised Phase Two proclamation signed today. The order will also limit the size of gatherings to 50. The new order is set to expire July 24, 2020 but could be extended.
“Cases in Louisiana continue to increase, including setting a record-high number of new cases reported in one day, today and yesterday. More than a thousand new novel coronavirus infections reported each day and increased hospitalizations are both signs that we continue to go in the wrong direction in our work to control COVID-19 in our state. 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 nearly 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 said. “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.”
The statewide mask mandate applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of less than 100 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks could choose to opt out of the mandate. Mayors and parish presidents do not have to opt out and may choose to keep a mask mandate in place. So far, only three parishes in Louisiana currently do not exceed this standard, which will be updated every other week by the Louisiana Department of Health.
As of this point in time, they are: Grant, Red River and West Feliciana.
Masks are required for anyone 8 years of age or older and anyone who does not have a major health condition that would make masking difficult. Masks are strongly recommended for children ages 2 to 7.
CLOSURE OF BARS TO ALL ON PREMISES CONSUMPTION
All bars, including those with food permits from the Louisiana Department of Health, will be closed to on-premises consumption, and open to takeout service only.
Since the start of the crisis, Louisiana has identified at least 36 outbreaks, impacting at least 405 people, involving bars, which were actually closed under the Governor’s original Stay at Home order. Public health officials believe going to bars is a higher public health risk than visiting other types of businesses because people are socializing and cannot wear masks when they drink. In addition, young people under the age of 30 make up the largest percentage of new COVID cases in Louisiana.
The new order also limits the size of gatherings to 50 people indoors. Outdoor gatherings may only happen when strict social distancing of at least six feet is possible. Businesses and churches will stay at their current occupancy limit, except for bars, which will be closed except for takeout service. The 50-person size limit will apply to indoor mass gatherings, like receptions, weddings and others. The guidance is based on the advice of public health officials.
EDITORIAL NOTE: An earlier version of this article stated that masks would be required while in gyms, but not while working out. That answer was specific to East Baton Rouge Parish only. According to the governor’s mandate, masks will be required while working out.
Copyright 2020 WAFB, KALB, and Office of Gov. Edwards. All rights reserved.