Governor's proclamation

MANY, La. – The Louisiana governor’s executive order shutting down some businesses and limiting the number of people who can gather has the force of law and violators can face criminal charges and fines.

Sabine Parish District Attorney Don Burkett took a proactive approach by reminding residents that those who ignore the order can be fined up to $500 or spend six months in jail.

“This will be enforced in Sabine Parish so I appreciate everyone’s compliance. Together we can beat this thing,” Burkett said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ powers come from the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act. Edwards does not have the power to make a declaration of a crime or set penalties but he can issue an order and a crime and penalty for violators, Burkett said.

Local jurisdictions can add even more restrictions, but they cannot lessen what is outlined in the governor’s order, Burkett said.

A Louisiana State Police news release on Tuesday also backed the governor’s authority, saying Edwards’ proclamations and declarations have the power of law. As such, local, parish and state law enforcement agencies, as well as other state authorities including ATC and state fire marshal, will enforce the rules.

Violations of the gathering capacity and business hour restrictions could result in revocation of licenses or citations, including disturbing the peace or other violations, the LSP news release states.

Here are specifics in Edwards’ public health emergency order issued Monday:

  • All gatherings of 50 or more people are postponed or cancelled from today through April 13. This applies to gatherings in a single place.

It does not apply to normal operations like airports, medical facilities, shopping centers or malls, office buildings, factories or manufacturing facilities or grocery or department stories.

  • Casinos, video poker establishments, movie theaters, bars, bowling alleys, fitness centers and gyms shall cease operations today through April 12.

Truck stops can remain operation but must stop gaming operations. Race tracks also can stay open but the public can’t go in and gaming operations are prohibited.

  • All restaurants, cafes, coffee shops must stop on-premises consumption of food and beverages through April 12. They can, however, continue take-out, drive-through and delivery services.

Hotel restaurants may continue operations but only for registered hotel guests via room service.

  • All state agencies, board and commissions and political subdivisions of the state are allowed let their members teleconference or video conference their meetings. Efforts should be made to let the public observe and have input. Meeting notice requirements are still in effect.
  • Deadlines in legal proceedings in all courts, administrative agencies and boards are suspended until April 13.
  • The chief law enforcement officer has the authority to set a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Driver’s licenses that expire between March 9 and May 10 is suspended and the expiration date is extended to May 20.
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