Businesses sue Governor over coronavirus restrictions

Updated: Jul. 21, 2020 at 9:51 PM CDT
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METAIRIE, La. (WVUE) - Three Jefferson Parish business owners sue Governor John Bel Edwards over the state's coronavirus restrictions.

This comes after Edwards' statewide mask mandate and Phase Two restrictions.

"I read the proclamation, I thought it was ownerist and vague, and I'm having a hard time seeing my musician friends and the people that i love and care about that can't play," Justin Molaison said.

Molaison serves as both a plaintiff and attorney on the case.

As a musican, he says he, along with his peers, are suffering from the closure of bars and limited gatherings.

"Music is part of our culture, and I just don't want to see it die, and I fear for a lot of those people that are in the bar business that are about to run out on their unemployment, the benefits that end at the end of the month," Molaison said.

FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti says Edwards does have the authority to place restrictions during the pandemic.

"I think that all over the country we're seeing that governors can do this. It's difficult, but the governor has emergency powers, and he can mandate this thing in the time of emergency, and we are in a time of emergency," Raspanti said.

We also spoke with the owner of The Crossing, one of the three businesses listed, who says her main concern is regarding the mask mandate.

She said business owners shouldn't be the ones enforcing it, and worries for her safety, along with her staff's.

"I understand the pain that these people are in, and they don't want to be the ones to enforce these people walking in without masks, but this is not the hill to die on," Raspanti said.

The lawsuit cites Attorney General Jeff Landry's opinions from last week, who said the governor's orders were vague in terms of penalties and enforcement.

"They need to understand that they're going to be on the wrong side of history. This is temporary, and I think we all need to know that it's a mutual sacrifice," Raspanti said.

FOX 8 also reached out to the Governor’s Office. A spokesperson says they haven’t been served the suit yet, and, “the Governor is confident that the statewide mask mandate, which was recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and is supported by the Vice President and others, is both legal and necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana.”

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