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Today, Gov. Edwards announced that a state court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Firehouse BBQ restaurant in Denham Springs, Louisiana for its excessive non-compliance of his Phase 2 mitigation measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 throughout Louisiana. The TRO prohibits the restaurant from operating in violation of an emergency order suspending their permit for violations of the Governor’s mask mandate.
“Defiance of the order to help keep the people of our state safe by this establishment is extremely reckless and irresponsible,” said Gov. Edwards. “Louisiana is number one in the nation for the number of COVID-19 cases per capita, and there is no doubt that this behavior is contributing to the unnecessary spread of this virus. That is unacceptable. We have gone above and beyond to give this owner every opportunity to get in compliance with the order as our intent has always been to work with businesses. The decisions I have made have not been easy, but they have been based on science, the data and recommendations by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which has designated Louisiana as a red zone state because of the amount of coronavirus here and the percent positivity rate which is above 10 percent. It was my hope that the action today would not be necessary, but we are left with no choice as the owner insists on being non-compliant thus jeopardizing the safety of the employees and customers.”
The Louisiana Dept. of Health (LDH) prioritizes education over such enforcement actions and that has largely worked in the response against COVID-19. The overwhelming majority of businesses are following the Governor’s orders and necessary mitigation measures to protect their employees and customers.
LDH and the State Fire Marshal received complaints on July 21 and July 22 indicating that the restaurant had posted notices on its front door and on social media saying it was not requiring the wearing of masks or face coverings by employees or customers.
An LDH inspection on July 27 confirmed the presence of the described front door sign and that Firehouse BBQ was not requiring employees or customers to wear masks or face coverings. Upon completion of the inspection and receipt of the inspection report, the owner of Firehouse BBQ made it clear the restaurant would not be complying with the Governor’s proclamations.
After giving the restaurant several opportunities to comply with the Governor’s order, in the interest of the public’s health, on July 31 LDH ordered the restaurant to close immediately.
Click here to read the TRO.