FRANKLIN, La. - By Executive Order, St. Mary Parish David Hanagriff announced Saturday additional restrictions on operating hours and customer capacity of certain stores in St. Mary Parish including all municipalities.
Beginning April 6, 2020, and ending April 30, 2020, all grocery stores, dollar stores, convenience stores and pharmacies shall be allowed to operate from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm and shall be limited to no more than 35% of its fire marshal capacity. Any 24-hour pharmacies shall be allowed to continue to operate after 8:00 pm with drive-through service only.
Convenience stores will be allowed to continue to operate it fuel service operation after 8:00 pm.
It is further mandated that stores use a one person- one buggy/basket police.
Golf courses will be allowed to remain open but shall be restricted to one person per cart or walking only.
All other businesses shall follow Governor John Bel Edwards Executive Order of April 2, 2020, relative to essential businesses listed as allowed to operate as normal and those businesses required close or limit operations.
Parish President David Hanagriff was joined by Sheriff Blaise Smith, Coroner Dr. Eric Melancon and Homeland Security Director David Naquin.
Each official stressed the importance of taking the virus seriously. Regarding the parish curfew, Sheriff Smith explained that those who are out in the middle of the day that are not being compliant with safety guidelines are those they are concerned about. He specifically mentioned grocery stores, saying that when a store is a gathering place for people, it's a gathering place for the virus to spread.
Smith added that in recent weeks, complaints and arrests have decreased in the parish.
"Think about our loved ones," said Smith. "You could have picked [the virus] up because you made too many trips to the store."
He encouraged residents to only shop when necessary, and to make 1-2 trips to the store a week, with only one person per family making the trip.
Dr. Melancon also expressed the seriousness of the situation, saying, "It's not a joke. It's time for us to grow up."
He explained that while some people only experience mild flu-like symptoms, some others will require ventilators and some others will die.
St. Mary Ochsner currently has four patients on ventilators and 9 other ventilators available.
"It upsets me when people take this so lightly," said Melancon. He explained that if someone gets tested for COVID-19 and then goes to work, they run the risk of infecting others. "That may not play on people's conscious. It should, though."
Officials say they hope the new changes regarding store hours will help with the amount of people out at a time and, subsequently, help slow or stop the spread of the virus in the parish.
Watch the full press conference below: