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After Texas and Mississippi end mask mandates, 34 legislators want Louisiana to do the same



LOUISIANA – Thirty-four state legislators, all Republican, asked Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards to end the statewide mask mandate and fully reopen businesses in Louisiana.

“It is time to lift statewide restrictions on the capacity of all businesses and facilities and lift the statewide mask mandate,” state Rep. Rick Edmonds wrote the governor in correspondence to which 23.6% of the state’s 144 legislators also signed. “Our businesses, both large and small, will continue to fight against COVID-19. We are certain that their continued commitment and direction as it relates to capacity issues and enforcement of other virus safety precautions will be done safely and professionally without any additional government mandates.”

Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, added, “With access to vaccinations on the rise, hospitalizations on the decline, and a variety of better treatment options, now is time to end the mandates.”

Edmonds told The Advocate / The Times-Picayune that he was influenced by the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi, neighbors to the west and the east of Louisiana, who orders earlier this week returned both states to full business without restrictions and without masks on Wednesday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves rescinded pandemic restrictions saying the situation has gotten better. Mississippi, for instance, is “getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do,” Reeves told reporters, citing that positive tests and hospitalizations have declined in recent days.

“COVID-19 is bigger, way bigger than politics. This is what I personally believe,” Edmonds said. “After watching other leaders, I think this is the right move for our governor to make and I hope he will do that.”

Edwards loosened restrictions starting Wednesday. He kept the state’s mask mandate in place. But restaurants, salons and most businesses can open their establishments to customers up to 75% of the structure’s occupancy limits at any one time. Religious services no longer have capacity limits. Festivals can open as can most bars at 50% capacity. Indoor music venues and event centers can open at 50% capacity or 250 people.

“Gov. Edwards hasn’t read the letter, but he has consistently relied on recommendations from the CDC, LDH and other medical experts – none of whom have recommended removing the mask mandate,” said Shauna Sanford, the governor’s communications director, referring to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Health.