ACA.maskenforce.02.071420

Governor John Bel Edwards listens intently as Dr. Joseph Kanter speaks during a press conference, Saturday, July 11, 2020, at GOHSEP in Baton Rouge, La. Edwards announced that beginning Monday at 12:01 am, bars would be closed to on-premises consumption and there would be a statewide mask mandate across Louisiana.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards delivered an animated, two minute-long answer to a question Saturday about enforcing mask wearing as the state tries to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Previously the governor allowed parishes and cities to decide whether or not to issue mask mandates. That changed Saturday when he issued a new order requiring the public to wear masks starting Monday.

State officials with the Fire Marshal Butch Browning’s office, along with the Louisiana Department of Health and the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, have inspected 3,910 businesses since May 4, according to Browning spokeswoman Ashley Rodrigue. Those uncovered 433 businesses that had at least one violation – but resulted in zero citations or penalties.

"I'm going to repeat something here, and I hesitate to do it, but I'm going to do it anyway," Edwards began.

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"A public health emergency of this nature ... if the people of Louisiana are going to insist that we enforce our way through it, we're not going to be successful," he said, pausing. "And we're going to continue have people unnecessarily spreading this disease..."

Edwards said he has confidence that residents don't need the threat of enforcing restrictions like the mask mandate to abide by them.

Then he delivered a message to the anti-mask crowd.

"If you don't like the mask mandate, then don't like it, but wear your mask anyway if you're going to be out in public," he said. "If you want to criticize me, criticize me. This isn't an easy thing to do. It's hard. And I understand it's going to be controversial. And I know that because we've already seen some wild-and-crazy things being said about masks and mask mandates. So be it. It's the right thing to do. It's the essential thing to do. But don't sit back and say, 'We're only going to be successful if you enforce our way through this. That is just the wrong attitude."

Click here to read more details from Edwards on the new restrictions.


Follow Kyle Whitfield on Twitter, @kyle_whitfield.​