City, parish end mask mandate restrictions

By T. Scott Boatright

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker and Lincoln Parish Administrator Doug Postel says that facemasks are no longer required to be worn in city or parish buildings after Gov. John Bel Edwards lifted the statewide mask mandate earlier this week.

Edwards’ order, which went into effect on Wednesday, said that local governments and businesses can make their own decisions on whether or not to require protective face coverings.

While the parish has ended the required facemasks in public spaces in its buildings like lobbies, entryways and the Police Jury office, independent businesses operating in parish buildings such as the Registrar of Voters office, the Assessor’s office, the District Attorney’s Office and the LSU AgCenter can still require facemasks if they decide to do so.

Grambling Mayor Edward Jones said Thursday evening the his city’s mask mandate will remain at least until it can be discussed during next week’s Grambling City Council May meeting, which will take place on Thursday.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about it then,” Jones said. “But personally, I feel we need to continue wearing the masks, especially with the different variants and mutations of COVID-19 popping up and the fact that our children, some of whom are getting the illness, have not been vaccinated and are not protected.

“I just feel it’s better to be safe than sorry and would rather err on the side of safety. I don’t like wearing the facemasks and would love to take them off. But I don’t think it’s time yet with so many cases still out there and new variants still being found. We still need to learn more about this virus before we stop protecting ourselves against it.”

Edwards is still asking the public to wear face coverings and said that state government buildings and asked that others continue to do so, too.

“I will continue to wear a mask when in public when I am close to folks. I think it’s the right thing to do for public health. It’s also the respectful thing to do,” Edwards said. “We know that masks work. The science is clear.”

The statewide mask mandate was first issued in July 2020 following a summer surge in coronavirus cases after initially easing restrictions caused the governor to act with more stringent measures.

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