State fire marshal not issuing citations but teaching business owners with distancing violations

Social Distancing Enforcement

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Friday afternoon, on the Gretna levee you could see bikers passing a pair sitting on a bench looking towards the water, a bench over a family rolling down the small hill. All enjoying the weather and following signs that remind them to stay 6 feet away from one another.

“I think largely people are complying and understanding,” Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng said.” Every now and then you have people who just get out of hand.”

This weekend, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. Jason Rivarde and Lee Sheng say they hope people continue following guidelines, including ones for restaurant owners.

“Our state fire marshal is looking for if anybody is going beyond the capacity,” Lee Sheng said. “The capacity now for restaurants is to allow 25 percent of their indoor capacity outdoors.”

Louisiana Fire Marshal Chief Butch Browning says the office hasn’t issued a single citation. “We’re operating in the spirit of partnership. If we have to use the full enforcement of the fire marshal office, first one I’m going to be surprise since we’ve been getting so much compliance. That’s going to be the extreme."

He says if they have to respond to a restaurant not following social distancing policies, investigators will teach owners how to comply.

“This whole idea of these new standards is very new to a lot of people. We have to have a very extensive education tool,” Browning said.

He says if customers don’t feel comfortable and safe at a restaurant, they won’t return. “Businesses owners take personal responsibility in the operation of their business because they want the customers to come back,” said Browning.

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