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St. Landry asking "gray-area" businesses to open

Posted at 10:30 AM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 11:30:08-04

St. Landry Parish is asking its gray-area businesses to open - with restrictions.

Businesses that are not specifically ordered to stay closed can be open, as long as all employees wear masks, all occupants keep a six-foot distance and the building must maintain 25 percent occupancy.

"If you cannot abide by this executive order, you are asked not to open until you can," parish emergency director Van Reed said.

Other requirements are that employees with symptoms can't work, no one can stand outside to wait, and customers with symptoms or fever are asked not to come in.

Conditions for those operating as Safe Shop businesses are authorized to be open and to operate subject to the following conditions:

  • All employees must wear masks;
  • Employees may not work if they have a fever or symptoms;
  • Customers must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet of separation when shopping or standing in line;
  • Maximum of 25% occupancy, as determined by code and the Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Fire Marshal;
  • No congregating or groups loitering in or near businesses;
  • Customers who have fever or symptoms of the coronavirus must not be allowed inside the building;

Any business that violates these requirements faces consequences, Reed said. Their electricity can be disconnected, and their business license can be revoked, he said.

Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor said elected officials have wanted businesses to re-open but it's not that simple.

"We have to be smart. We have to safely open these businesses, understanding we are still fighting this virus. We have to be disciplined, and make sure these measures are adhered to," Alsandor said. "I desperately want to open, but we have to open with good guidance and listen to the medical experts. I know there's some reluctance, because we know what the outcome could be. But we shouldn't live by fear. We are allowing certain things to happen gradually."

Alsandor said that, if businesses and citizens don't adhere to the rules, the virus will resurge.

"If these measures are not stringently kept in force, we will revert back to where we were six weeks ago. I'm pleading to the city of Opelousas and surrounding areas, that you do your part. We have to ask ourselves: What more can we do now? If we do that, forward progress will occur. These businesses should have been open all along. The more you read the more you understand," Alsandor said.

Alsandor is referring to the text of the governor's stay-at-home order, which does allow businesses not specifically closed to operate with restrictions. Many read the order as closing all businesses that were not determined "essential," but that's not what the order says.

Officials says the Executive Order does not apply to restaurants, casinos, video poker establishments, movie theaters, bars, bowling alleys, fitness centers and gyms, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, pool halls, children's play centers, play grounds, theme parks, all theatres, concerts and music halls, adult entertainment venues, racetracks, barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and all malls, because those businesses cannot maintain social distancing and, therefore, they shall remain closed.

A parish-wide adult and juvenile curfew will remain in effect from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am until April 30.

To read the whole thing, click here.