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UPDATE: Governor's office says masks for employees not optional

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Posted at 11:02 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 10:04:20-04

VERMILION PARISH — UPDATE: We've spoken with the governor's office about an Abbeville business owner's decision to "not wear masks" in their restaurant

"The order is perfectly clear: any employee who has interaction with the public must wear face coverings," spokeswoman Shauna Sanford tells KATC.

People with diagnosed, medical respiratory issues are exempt - but they also should not be around the public, because they're at risk, Sanford said.

The governor has repeatedly said "you should not patronize a business if you feel they are not taking necessary precautions to keep you safe."

Sanford added that you can register a complaint with the State Fire Marshal's Office, but she also repeated what the governor has said at almost every press conference on COVID-19.

"The governor says we can't enforce our way out of this," she said. "We need people and businesses to comply with these mitigation measures because we know they work. We really need individuals and businesses to work with us and help each other."

Wearing a mask greatly reduces the spread of the virus, because it is mainly passed through the droplets that come out of our mouths when we cough, sneeze, talk, sing, etc., she said.

Dr. Tina Stefanski also weighing in on the guideline. She says that masks are not optional when it comes to businesses dealing with the public.

We spoke with the owner of Dupuy's. She says she's going to meet with an official from the fire marshal because there's still confusion with the language in the Governor's guideline.

"I have done nothing wrong, lawfully," Hebert said. "There's a lot of words of recommend; There's a lot tricky words that kind of makes people perceptions be taken in a different way at reading it. How i read it how you read it, is two different ways."

Here's the original story:

An Abbeville restaurant owner is defending her decision not to have her employees wear masks at work.

Dupuy's Seafood and Steak is giving customers a heads up before entering the building that masks will not be worn.

One of the owners Tonya Landry Hebert says she wants to be transparent with her customers. It is why she left a note on the buildings front door.

Hebert explained how she has Marfan syndrome. She says wearing a mask inside a hot building for a long time , impacted her health and performance. Also, her employee's performance.

In a conversation she had with one of her employees about how work was going , she says they responded, "It's almost like I can't think. My head's in the clouds about 20 minutes into the evening shift. I was like 'do you feel like this or like that' and he was like 'yeah, that's exactly what I was experiencing . But, for me it was like my blood pressure would drop."

Hebert says she knows the risks first-hand. Her daughter has Rheumatoid arthritis, which makes her vulnerable to the virus.

Also, she knows people who have been impacted by COVID-19.

"I want to make sure everyone understands that putting anyone at risk is far from my intention." Hebert said. "My brother-in-law lost his brother to it. I definitely understand. It's not a joke and I don't want anyone to think I think it's a joke or politically driven."

Hebert says she's trusting her employees to take their temperatures before coming to work and also follow other safety guidelines.

She says she couldn't get an answer from the Fire Marshal's Office about whether face masks are mandatory. We called Abbeville Police to get an answer. They said they didn't have any information and would get back to us.

Hebert says she just wants to do what's right.

"I'm not a law breaker so that's what my biggest concern would be," Hebert said. "I figure if they (officials she reached out to for information) knew lawfully that I was breaking the law and I was reaching out to them, they would say it."

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