Face coverings will now be mandatory in East Baton Rouge Parish businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome made the announcement Wednesday after the parish saw its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases in a month and a half. Broome's enforcement effort will focus on businesses, which are now required to implement a "No Mask - No Service" policy. Failure to comply with the order will result in a misdemeanor summons, and judges will have the authority to assess fines up to $200 as they see fit. The order takes effect July 3 at noon, and will last until August 3. Broome joins local leaders in Orleans and Jefferson parishes who have also responded to the resurgence of the virus by making face coverings mandatory in public. “This is not easy, but we can do it," Broome said. "Save the economy, save a business that can’t afford to shut down, and most importantly, save a life with me today." Nearly 1,000 East Baton Rouge Parish residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 11 days. Hospitalization rates are up by a third and the percentage of tests that came back positive has doubled over the same time. The spike in the capital region has drawn the attention the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Gov. John Bel Edwards said federal, state and local agencies are coordinating to set up four testing sites in East Baton Rouge Parish. Each site will be able to test 5,000 people per day. "To highlight the amount of concern they have, it's my understanding this is one of three such efforts around the country," he said. Edwards said he supports all of the local mask requirements that have taken effect so far, but he does not plan implementing a similar statewide order. The mayors of Zachary and Central, both of which are located within East Baton Rouge Parish, have announced that Broome's order will not apply within their respective city limits. This post was updated to include information in the executive order Broome released Wednesday evening.