Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has extended a statewide indoor mask mandate, affecting businesses, K-12 schools, college campuses and other public spaces.
The extension was issued via executive order pursuant to the governor’s emergency powers. The mandate was set to expire Wednesday but now will continue until at least Oct. 27.
Edwards first implemented mandatory face coverings in early August, saying the measure was necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19. He said the order was temporary and would last until Sept. 1, though it could be extended. An identical mandate issued last year spanned nearly 12 months.
“On August 4, the day that the mask mandate was put back into place, only 37 percent of Louisianans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of today, that is up to more than 45 percent,” Edwards said Tuesday. “While that improvement is something to be proud of, it is not enough. Just over half of all people in Louisiana who are eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated. That’s why masking right now is important still.”
The Louisiana chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business called the mask extension “ridiculous.”
“This governor asked for the biz community support to slow the spread and that has happened. Now here we are living under another extended order. Biz owners are finding it more and more difficult to implement this mandate. This is ridiculous,” the organization said on social media.
The executive order stated masks must be worn “over the nose and mouth when indoors in any place outside of a private residence,” with few exceptions.
The order also authorized citations against businesses that do not comply and law enforcement to enforce trespassing violations against workers, customers or patrons who refuse to wear a mask when asked to do so.
Edwards said Louisiana’a public health status has improved since August but remains at high risk. He cited 243 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and attributed a disproportionate spread among children age 5 to 18.
“We must do everything we can to protect ourselves and those around us who are vulnerable, including wearing masks indoors and getting the safe, effective and totally free COVID-19 vaccine,” Edwards said.
This article was originally posted on Edwards extends statewide indoor mask mandate