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Mayor-President Guillory asks AG Landry to clarify indoor live music restrictions

Governor's office responds by saying live music is currently not allowed under the Phase Two reopening guidelines.
Josh Guillory
Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 20:49:18-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Landry on Thursday, requesting a legal opinion regarding Phase Two guidelines regarding live music indoors.

The new guidelines state that, "The following businesses remain closed: carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, fairs, contact sports, children’s indoor play centers, arcades, trampoline parks, theme parks, concert and music halls, and other similar businesses. Live entertainment is not permitted inside any building or indoor function."

Open Safely guidelines, put forth by the State Fire Marshal's Office, state, "Indoor live entertainment, which includes but is not limited to bands and karaoke, is not authorized in this phase. This limitation does not apply to disc jockeys or music played via speaker system. Outdoor live entertainment, including singing or blown instruments, must allow for 6-foot distancing and 2-foot aisle between entertainment and audience."

"I believe the intent of the Governor's restriction on live music is to prohibit mass concerts in large arenas where social distancing cannot be observed. In order to restrict the freedom of individuals to assemble, said restrictions must be in the least restrictive manner and serve a compelling interest. It is my respectful position that prohibiting all live music indoors does not pass such strict scrutiny," Guillory said.

Landry sent a letter to State Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning, Jr. Friday, questioning the regulations that "appear to treat similarly situated performers and venues differently."

Landry referenced the guarantee of equal protection under the Louisiana constitution, mandating that all state laws affect alike all persons and interestes similarly situated.

"While we acknowledge the state has a legitimate interest in preventing the spread of COVID-19," Landry continued, "at this time no explanation is given for the different treatment outlined in the Phase 2 Guidance."

"On behalf of the City and Parish of Lafayette, I share my deepest thanks to Attorney General Jeff Landry for all of his efforts to ensure our citizens and businesses are protected from restrictions that aren't necessary during this public health emergency," Guillory said.

He added, "I appreciate how hard Governor Edwards and his administration have been working to keep Louisiana citizens safe and navigate this public health emergency. My administration will continue to work with the Governor's Office to ensure victory over COVID-19."

KATC reached out to the governor's office for comment.

Shauna Sanford, communications director for the governor's office, responded with the following statement:

Currently, live music is not allowed indoors under the Phase Two reopening, as we work to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana. The concern is not just about social distancing and crowd management, but more specifically it’s about singing and blown instruments as modes of spreading COVID in indoor spaces. This was demonstrated by a choir practice outbreak in Washington state with about 30 out of 50 participants becoming infected after one asymptomatic singer joined the multi-hour practice in the room the size of a volley ball court, despite using social distancing and good hygiene practices. We are looking at ways to allow live music to return, based on research and best practices in other areas, states and countries, which could be reflected in future guidance we issue. Until then, live music is not allowed at businesses indoors.

You can read the letter from Guillory below.

You can read the letter from Landry below.

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