By Baptist Message staff
BATON ROUGE, La. (LBM) – Louisiana will remain in Phase 3 of reopening the state’s economy until at least Dec. 4, even as Gov. John Bel Edwards’ COVID-19 restrictions are being challenged in court.
Edwards has been at odds with House Republicans, who have asked for easing of restrictions and on Oct. 23 65 representatives signed a petition that called for the governor to suspend his order. A hearing is scheduled Nov. 12 to determine whether the restrictions and mask mandate should be overturned.
State Attorney General Jeff Landry will represent House Speaker Clay Schexnayder in court.
“The Governor not only rejected attempts by one of his co-equal branches of government to provide input and oversight, but he also ignored the checks and balances that underpin our government,” Landry said in an Oct. 29 statement after the court filing. “He then filed a lawsuit in an attempt to gain extraordinary powers unfounded in law. But today, the people’s representatives responded with a legal petition of their own to ensure the Governor follows the rule of law. And by following the law, the people will get their seat at the table. After all: the powers authorized by the Louisiana Constitution, as enshrined in our laws, are held by the people and exercised by their elected Legislators.”
Under the current order, businesses and churches will be allowed to continue to operate at 75 percent capacity, indoor social gatherings like weddings and birthday parties can accommodate guests at 50 percent capacity, up to 250 people, and high school stadiums can have up 50 percent capacity in parishes that have percent positivity of less than five percent for two consecutive weeks.
Edwards said Louisiana’s new COVID-19 case count and test positivity remains mostly stable, but asked Louisianans to continue observing proper social distancing measures and wearing masks. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the state last week added 73 new cases per 100,000 people, in comparison to a national average of 165 per 100,000 people.
“The mitigation measures we have in place are slowing the spread of COVID and saving lives and now is not the time to let up,” Edwards said. “All Louisianans need to continue to work together to slow the spread of COVID in our state and keep hospitalizations down so that we do not risk our ability to deliver health care to our people. We have now seen three consecutive days of increasing hospitalizations, and last saw this many people in the hospital in mid-September. As we move into the holiday season, it is important that people do not let their guard down. We have seen COVID spread because of small, private gatherings at people’s homes and everyone should be focused on minimizing their risk and protecting their loved ones.”