St. Landry going back to work, but cautiously

Monday, May 18, 2020

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 Health and emergency officials are reminding St. Landry businesses to follow social distancing and other guidelines as they begin to reopen from a months-long hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. John Bel Edwards formally moved the state into Phase One of its Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana on May 15, allowing business to open with strict social distancing, stringent sanitation requirements and a requirement for masks for employees serving the public.

St. Landry businesses in need of masks for their employees can get them for free by calling the COVID Hotline, (337) 793-6208.

The governor’s order specifies that Louisianans should still avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. People who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should still stay at home unless they are traveling outside of the home for an essential activity, such as obtaining food, medicine or medical care. The governor said restrictions will be reimposed if the deadly virus shows signs of spreading rapidly again.

Some retail and other businesses in St. Landry considered in a “gray zone” were allowed to reopen earlier in May under certain restrictions. At that time parish health officials said new cases of the coronavirus had leveled enough to allow cautious reopening.

Parish officials joined with others in noting that “business owners and leaders acknowledge that public health and safety must remain the highest priority,” but pointed out that “it is evident from the essential businesses that have remained open that both Stay at Home and Safe at Work are simultaneously achievable.”

“This is not mission accomplished or a victory against COVID-19,” the governor said in announcing the Phase I recovery mode, “but it is a positive and hopeful move for Louisiana. I want to encourage the public and business owners to proceed cautiously and to take the necessary steps to protect themselves, including wearing a protective face covering like a cloth mask when they are in public, keeping social distance from people outside of their households and practicing good hygiene.”

The new order expands the types of businesses that can open but limits many of them to to 25 percent of occupancy and require strict social distancing. Casinos and video poker establishments may open but must have a plan approved by the Gaming Control Board. More information is available at OpenSafely.la.gov.

“Anything that begins to put St. Landry Parish safely back to work is welcomed,” parish economic development director Bill Rodier said. “It is important that businesses, and their customers, follow the guidelines so that we can continue to move forward. Failure to do so could undo the progress we have made and put us into an even worse position.”

Who can open?

Businesses that may open with 25 percent occupancy limits, sanitation guidelines and spacing for physical distancing include: Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, shopping malls, gyms and fitness centers, barber and beauty shops,  nail salons, movie theaters, racetracks (not open to spectators), museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits), and bars and breweries with LDH food permits

Who stays closed?

The following businesses remain closed: massage establishments and spas, tattoo parlors, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, fairs, bars and breweries without LDH food permits, pool halls, bowling alleys, contact sports, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, adult entertainment venues, and other similar businesses.

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