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Local governments, businesses adapt to Gov. Edwards’ relaxed statewide mask mandate

Updated: Apr. 28, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In his Tuesday afternoon address, Governor John Bel Edwards reminded citizens that the pandemic is far from over, but he’s relaxing the masking rules and letting local governments and business owners set their own mandates with a few restrictions.

Calcasieu leaders say the parish has been masking up since last July. Nearly a year later, things are changing.

“Currently in our facilities, we are recommending mask usage rather than requiring it,” said Tom Hoefer, with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. “The only exceptions to that are on our transit buses and in our medical clinics.”

Lake Charles City officials are abiding by those same standards of recommendation and not requirements.

Individual businesses, like Stine, can define their own rules.

“We’re not going to require our customers or associates to wear a mask,” Jeremy Stine said. “We will have masks available when you walk in for both associates and our customers. We’re abiding by that social distancing he’s requiring.”

Some corporate chains will still require masks like Walmart, saying in a statement:

“We serve millions of Americans every week and believe our policy of requiring associates and customers to wear masks in our stores has helped protect them during the pandemic, and we’re not lifting those measures at this time. We are constantly evaluating our COVID-related health and safety protocols, including state executive orders and other mandate changes. We will continue to do so, keeping CDC guidance and local COVID statistics in mind.”

Some Lake Area residents believe vaccinations are helping, but say taking off our masks could stall that process.

“A lot of people are not getting shots, especially in our area,” said resident, Christopher Archinard. “So I really want people to go out and get shots so we can be free of these masks.”

Others say wearing the mask still is a duty.

“I think we should respect other people, and my way of respecting other people is taking precautions, so I think it’s irresponsible,” said resident Ken Moser.

Gov. Edwards mentioned that sense of respect in his address, adding he will continue to wear his mask in public spaces.

“I think it’s the right thing to do for public health,” Gov. Edwards said. “It’s also the respectful thing to do.”

Other residents believe in the right to choose if it should be worn or not.

“It needs to run its course,” Joshua Nelson said. “You know, if you have a medical problem, then stay inside. For everybody else, it’s time to get on. It’s time to get everything back rolling again.”

This new proclamation will be in effect through May 25, 2021.

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