Louisiana orders BBQ restaurant to close over failing to enforce mask orders'

BBQ restaurant says the mask mandate is ‘illegal’

A state judge has temporarily shut down a barbecue restaurant at the request of the Louisiana Health Department on Friday, for refusing to enforce mask mandate laws.

State District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks issued a restraining order Friday prohibiting the Firehouse BBQ in Livingston Parish, La., from operating after they refused to require workers and patrons to abide the statewide masks laws.

The business will be shut down until at least Aug. 18 pending a hearing.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards called the restaurant’s refusal to obey state health procedures “extremely reckless and irresponsible.”

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The Firehouse BBQ rejected the governor’s statewide mask order, calling it “an illegal mandate” and reportedly continued to operate after the state revoked their food permit.  The business also posted on their Facebook page that customers and employees were “given the option to wear a mask or not.”

“It was my hope that the action today would not be necessary, but we are left with no choice as the owner insists on being non-compliant thus jeopardizing the safety of the employees and customers,” Edwards wrote on Twitter Friday.

Louisiana has reported over 128,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,000 deaths.

The state has seen recent spikes in the number of coronavirus cases which prompted Edwards to announce this week that the state will remain in phase two of reopening the economy.

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All bars will remain closed for on-premise consumption and mask mandate orders are still in place or at least the next 21 days.

“The decisions I have made have not been easy, but they have been based on science, the data and recommendations by the White House Coronavirus Task Force,” Edwards said on Twitter Friday.

Health officials are reportedly worried about the state’s infection positivity rate, which is hovering around 14 percent. Edwards said in a press conference earlier this week that the positivity rate needs to be closer to ten percent in order to advance to the next phase.

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New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a statement in support of the continued restrictions.

“I thank Gov. Edwards for his leadership. None of this is easy, and no one wants to go backward -- but public health and public safety must remain our top priority,” Cantrell said this week.

“Without a healthy population, there can be no economic recovery. We are all in this together.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.