METAIRIE, La. — The Jefferson Parish Council approved a resolution asking Governor John Bel Edwards to loosen Coronavirus restrictions by parish or region.
Right now, those decisions are made on a statewide basis.
Council members said they are not trying to pick a fight with the governor.
“It’s time for us to stand up and act on behalf of our citizens,” JP Councilman Deano Bonano said. “We want him to sit down and talk with us. Be reasonable. Manage this process on a region wide basis.”
According to Bonano, the parish’s hospital capacity and infection rates have remained low enough to move into phase three.
“Allow us to maintain the safety protocols and common sense measures that we have in place today and start reopening our business,” Bonano said.
Edwards announced last week that the state will remain in phase 2 until at least Sept. 11.
The order keeps bars closed and the occupancy limit in restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses at 50 percent.
JP business groups fear there could be a wave of closures and bankruptcies if the state doesn’t act soon.
“We need to open up this economy,” Jefferson Chamber President Todd Murphy said. “We need to embrace free enterprise which puts in fair and reasonable regulations. A mask is a reasonable regulation.”
“Give our citizens a chance and our businesses a chance,” Jefferson Business Council Executive Director Tim Coulon said. “They’ll make the right decision.”
JP council members also said state rules are unclear as to what it will take to get to the next level of reopening and what that may look like.
“This resolution asks that the governor lay out specifics for the parishes to tell us what we need to do,” JP Councilman At Large Scott Walker said. “Where do we need to be to get into phase three?”
“We are hearing from our business community that they are at the breaking point at this moment and they need information on when do we move to the next phase and what will that phase allow me to do,” JP Council member Jennifer Van Vrancken said.
“Every time the parish complies with the rules, the goal posts get moved,” JP Councilman Dominick Impastato said. “The rules are changed on us. It was flattening the curve then flattening the curve wasn’t good enough.”
Council members approved the joint resolution without opposition.
Governor Edwards Communications Director Shauna Sanford released this statement:
“Our office has not officially received the resolution, however, Gov. Edwards has been very clear about why the state is currently staying in Phase 2 in our response to COVID-19. There is still a lot of COVID in every parish of our state and Jefferson Parish is among the three parishes in the state with the highest number of new cases over the last three weeks, according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The Governor’s decisions are not easy but they are always based on the data and the science.”