Businesses react to Mayor Cantrell’s compliance complaint

Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 10:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Mayor Latoya Cantrell says she’ll temporarily close businesses that are not following guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She called out specific businesses, Monday, after the first weekend of compliance task force inspections. It is a new group created specifically to crack down on places that are not following the rules.

“The General Degaulle store is unacceptable,” said Mayor Latoya Cantrell about a Rouses Market.

Cantrell said people are not following guidelines there or at their location Uptown location at Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas.

"While we have noticed improvements to the Uptown store, we're not there yet. But I'm working with Mr. Rouse in this regard and he's committed to making sure they're in compliance 100-percent," Cantrell said.

FOX 8 reached out to Rouses Market where representatives insist they're going "above and beyond." A spokesperson to but told us CEO Donny Rouse would not be available for an in-person interview or one by phone.

A spokesperson did tell us all employees are provided masks and are required to wear them in all parts of the store or warehouse. Vendors must also wear a face covering when making a delivery and customers have to wear one when they shop, stating "there are signs at the entrances of our stores and throughout our stores reminding customers they are required to wear a mask per executive order."

"Personally, I thought they've been doing a job good job of wearing masks over here but if there's anything less than everyone wearing the mask like they should be, she should be calling them out. There's no issue with me-- private business, public juxtaposition. They're not competing interests, we should all care about one another," said New Orleans resident and Rouses shopper Yemi Olubowale.

Rouses was not the only business Cantrell singled out. She said the new compliance task force's focus on the bad actors also brought attention to this Walmart in New Orleans East.

"I've asked that if they can't get it together, they'll have to close that store. Unfortunately, that will take away the accessibility for the residents, but everybody has to follow the rules," Cantrell explained.

FOX 8 went inside the Walmart on Bullard Avenue, Monday afternoon, and found 10 employees and a number of customers who did not have their faces covered.

The mayor says she spoke with Walmart leaders who have assured compliance.

In a statement, company reps say they have required masks for their employees since the end of April and encourage customers to follow suit saying, "we all need to do our part in the interest of public health."

New Orleans residents we spoke to agree.

"It's really important to keep other people safe," said New Orleans resident and Rouses shopper Kari Smith.

"Taking time to put on your mask before you step out of the door is just having respect for other people," echoed Olubowale.

Representatives say masks are required at Rouses Market but managers here tell us no one will be turned away if they refuse to wear one. They say very few do not comply.

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