St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
March 25, 2020
RESTRICTIONS ON BUSINESSES
The interpretation and application of the “Stay At Home” proclamation issued by Governor John Bel Edwards last Sunday, March 22, 2020, has placed a great deal of pressure on local governments throughout the State. In an attempt to establish uniformity in the enforcement of the Governor’s edict, I focused on the stated purposes of the order: Stymie the spread of COVID-19 in order to protect the medical infrastructure of this state so that medical services for everyone, both COVID-19 patients and others needing medical treatment, would not be compromised. Next, I studied the guidelines of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency referenced in, and made a part of, 33 JBE 2020. Then, special note was made of Section 6 of the Order which states:
“The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is directed to ensure compliance with this order, and is empowered to exercise all authorities pursuant to La. R.S. 721, et seq., La. R.S. 29:760, et seq.”
Therefore, I issued a local executive order that all enforcement and questions regarding 33 JBE 2020 would be directed to the Office of Emergency Preparedness which operates under the direct auspices of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). On a conference call with our Mayors, law enforcement personnel, and other parish leaders, we discussed the utilization of the Parish OEP and all agreed this process would be prudent and would insure consistent application and enforcement, at least within our Parish.
Therefore, questions regarding business operations should be directed to the Parish’s OEP (337.394.2808).
It should also be noted that on Monday afternoon, our OEP officials had already received written guidance from the legal department of GOHSEP relative to several concerns/questions from businesses. Of course, one must necessarily surmise that GOHSEP has played a major role in drafting all of the executive orders issued in the wake of this COVID-19 situation.
As a preliminary checklist, I offer the following abstract of the application of ALL of the executive orders on businesses. There seems to be four basic classifications for businesses:
I. Business which may remain open without restrictions
- Medical Facilities
- Mental Health Facilities
- Grocery Stores
- Gasoline Vendors
- Farm Workers
- First Responders
- Those supporting or maintaining essential public works
- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers relative to the essential operation of residences
Note: This list is merely illustrative. A more comprehensive list is set forth in the guidelines of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency which was specifically reference and a part of 33 JBE 2020.
II. Businesses which must close
- Video Poker Establishments
- Movie Theatres
- Bowling Alleys
- Fitness Centers and Gyms
- Places of public amusements which include: amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, trampoline parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, pool halls, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, theatres, concert halls, music halls, adult entertainment venues, race tracks, and “other similar businesses”-See Section 4(A)(1) of 33 JBE 2020
- Personal care and grooming businesses which include: barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and “other similar businesses”-See Section 4(A)(2) of 33 JBE 2020
- Shopping Malls except for a store in a mall with a direct outdoor entrance and exit “that provide essential services and products as provided by CISA guidelines”-See Section 4(A)(3) of 33 JBE 2020
III. Businesses which may remain open with stated, specific restrictions
- Coffee Shops (Restrictions: No consumption of food or beverages on the premises; however, those businesses may offer food via take-out, drive-thru, and delivery)
- Hotels (Restrictions: Food can only be offered for service to hotel guests via room service)
- Early Learning Centers and Child Care (Restrictions: Must adhere to guidelines issued by the Louisiana Department of Education and Office of Public Health)
IV. Non-specified businesses
According to the Governor’s office, all other businesses are free to operate provided that they reduce operations:
- “to continue with minimum contact with members of the public and essential employees”
- Require and enforce the 10-person limitation on gathering size
As one can easily discern, there is more than a modicum of ambiguity in these restrictions. As St. Martin Parish and its OEP navigates through this matter, we ask for everyone’s cooperation. We are certain that our state legislative delegation and state officials will work with us to insure fair, reasonable application of the pertinent executive orders, and will not unreasonably impede the local enforcement of them.
Section 3 of 33 JBE 2020 dictates a general “stay at home” order by virtue of these clear dictates:
To preserve the public health and safety, and to insure the healthcare system is capable of serving all citizens in need, especially those at high risk and vulnerable to COVID-19, all individuals within the State of Louisiana ARE UNDER A GENERAL STAY-AT-HOME ORDER AND ARE DIRECTED TO STAY HOME UNLESS PERFORMING AN ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY.
An activity is deemed essential if the purpose is one of the following:
- Obtaining food, medicine, and other similar goods necessary for the individual or a family member of the individual
- Obtaining non-elective medical care and treatment and other similar vital services for an individual or a family member of the individual.
- Going to and from an individual’s workplace to perform a job function necessary to provide goods or services being sought in the preceding sections, or as otherwise deemed essential worker functions.
- Going to and from the home of a family member.
- Going to and from an individual’s place of worship.
- Engaging in an outdoor activity, providing individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gatherings.
Guidance for determining what constitutes essential workers for purposes of this stay-at-home dictate is, according to the executive order, set forth in the guidelines established by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The enforcement of this aspect of the stay-at-home order will be a difficult task for OEP since Section 5 allows non-essential businesses to open, with restrictions, but Section 3 only permits “essential” workers to leave home for employment purposes. So again, please have patience during this process of application and enforcement.
Let me conclude that all elected and appointed officials in St. Martin Parish take this matter very seriously and will do everything possible to protect the public and to adhere with governmental restrictions fairly and equitably.