NEW ORLEANS — The City of Grand Isle will not enforce the parish-level face mask order that went into effect this week, city officials say.
On Wednesday, Jefferson Parish Cynthia Lee-Sheng's order to require face masks in businesses began. Face coverings significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19, health experts agree, which has surged in the most populous parts of the parish in recent weeks.
The president's order, however, is only enforceable in census-designated place and unincorporated parts of the parish, like Metairie. Towns and cities can choose whether or not to follow similar rules.
Grand Isle officials said they will continue to follow the phase two safety guidelines laid out by Governor John Bel Edwards and state offices, but will not follow suit in requiring masks inside all businesses.
"All of the regulations currently in place for restaurants, bars and businesses remains the same. At this time we are not under an order from anyone requiring persons in public to wear mask other than the requirements previous set forth by the Governor under Phase II of reopening. We are not mandated to follow the order requiring that everyone wear a mask. This is what our town attorney is suggesting," island officials said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Grand Isle officials announced that 10,000 face masks would be available for residents and visitors over 4th of July weekend by the fire department, after they were donated by LCMC Health from West Jefferson Medical Center.
While there is worldwide consensus about the effectiveness of face coverings to stop the spread of many diseases, the issue of masking has become deeply politicized in the U.S.
Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn announced a mandatory masking order for businesses on Thursday, citing an alarming number of positive coronavirus cases coming from his city.
“Just consider (a mask) as a piece of your clothing,” Zahn said. “When you’re grabbing your watch, your wallet, your cellphone in the morning, grab one of these things too. Keep it on you.”
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Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant said her city isn’t ready to require masks just yet, but the Gretna City Council will consider a mandate during next Wednesday’s council meeting.
She said council members want to evaluate whether people do what they're supposed to do this weekend in terms of face coverings and social distancing before voting on the matter.