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Louisiana Bar Owners Fight Back Against Governor’s Forced Bar Closures

13:00 August 19, 2020
By: Sofia Gomez Alonso

Several bar owners in Louisiana have filed a lawsuit against Governor John Bel Edwards after the release of his order to restrict bars across the state. In their testimonies, the bar owners established that they had been following safety measures and COVID-19 guidelines throughout Phase Two, before the governor's order made them close their businesses. According to KATC News in Lafayette, the legal representative of the bar owners said that Edwards's law was "legally defective" because it did not make a clear distinction between businesses operating as bars and businesses operating as restaurants with bars inside of them. The governor of Louisiana issued this order under the premise that bars offer a social environment where individuals are less likely to comply with COVID-19 guidelines set out by the state. Edwards argued that people in bars tend to mix, as opposed to remaining seated with their parties, as well as being less likely to wear a face covering when appropriate. He also commented that loud music forces customers to come closer to talk, furthering the spread of the virus.

According to The Advocate, Edwards has recently won a separate legal challenge concerning the closure of bars in the New Orleans and Houma areas. The governor explained that his orders are aligned not only with his "authority" but also with the White House coronavirus task force. Jimmy Faircloth, the legal representative of the bar owners of Acadiana, established that "the state restrictions were initially meant to protect hospital capacity but now seem to be a long-term health policy seeking to fully eradicate a disease."

A federal judge has upheld the ruling of mandated bar closures for Louisiana, and they remain shuttered.

Several in-state and national public health experts have pinpointed bars as hot spots for the incubation of the virus. The Louisiana Department of Health says that it has traced 464 confirmed new cases to 41 bars. Louisiana has had around 139,000 cases with growing reports from individuals aged 18 to 29.

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