Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory on Tuesday said Lafayette Fire Department inspectors and Lafayette Police officers, like in 2020, will visit businesses to make sure managers and owners understand the governor's mask mandate that went into effect Wednesday.

But Guillory stopped short of saying they'll actually enforce the mask mandate. In 2020, Guillory's administration did not aggressively enforce restrictions on businesses mandated by the governor and by November, simply referred complaints about bars to the state Fire Marshal's Office.

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday announced he was reinstating a mask mandate for people indoors at least until Sept. 1. The mandate, he said, is to help slow the spread of the delta variant, which is more easily transmitted than the original COVID-19 virus that surfaced in 2020. Louisiana leads the nation in new coronavirus cases per capita with a surge that began in early July.

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Guillory said the indoor mask requirement applies only if people cannot keep 6 feet apart. He did not wear a mask at Tuesday's council meetings, saying he wasn't within 6 feet of the nearest person.

Parish Councilman A.B. Rubin was absent from the meeting because he came into contact with a COVID-positive person in recent days, Council Chairman John Guilbeau said.

Parish Councilman and musician/singer Kevin Naquin said it will be difficult to sing with a mask on and asked Guillory what the mask mandate means to entertainers like himself.

Most venues are licensed by the state, Guillory said, so he has no jurisdiction. The governor did not ban any activities or order a lockdown, he added, and there are no limits on capacity at venues such as bars.

"I got a sneaky feeling it won’t last too long," Naquin replied.

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When he's not attending council meetings or performing with the Ossun Playboys, Naquin works for a company that sells and rents medical equipment. Across the nation, he said, there's a shortage of ventilators and BiPAP machines because of the COVID surge.

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"It's bad. I turned down 50-60 hospitals a day for the last four days," Naquin said. The company is working around the clock to get equipment for hospitals.

He advised residents to be safe and make smart decisions. There are three different strains of COVID circulating, making the danger and battle tougher than in 2020.

"If you don't have God on your side, you might want to change that thought process," Naquin added.

Guillory asked residents to keep politics and divisive language out of discussions about COVID and to discuss the matter with a trusted health care professional before making a decision on taking the vaccine or not.

"This is a very dangerous virus. Each of us probably knows someone who died from this virus. I know I do," Guillory said. "My advice is to listen to the health care providers" who have an ethical obligation to provide honest advice. Find a medical professional you trust, ask tough questions about the vaccine, he said.

"If you're still convinced it's not a good decision for you, don’t take it," Guillory said.


Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.