As businesses and governments around the U.S. institute restrictions aimed at combatting the coronavirus pandemic, Louisiana is imposing an indoor mask mandate.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who has served as the state’s governor since 2016, said that the requirement will take effect Wednesday and apply to the vaccinated as well as to the unvaccinated, according to the Associated Press.
The mandate will remain until Sept. 1 and could potentially be extended.
Largely due to the state’s vaccination rate and the spread of the Delta variant of the illness, cases in Louisiana have risen significantly, according to a press release from the governor’s office which notes that the state “remains No. 1 nationwide for number of new COVID-19 cases per capita.”
The indoor face covering mandate applies to people ages 5 and up and to kids enrolled in kindergarten, with exceptions for when people are engaged in certain activities and an exception for individuals with medical issues that prevent them from using a face covering. The mandate applies when people are indoors somewhere other than a private residence. The mandate does not apply to a person who will not come into contact with anyone outside of their own household or to a person who will have the ability to engage in six feet of social distancing from anyone who is outside of their own household.
“This is bad. And it’s not this bad anywhere else in the country today,” Bel Edwards said at a news conference, according to the AP. “This is having an adverse impact on people’s lives today. And the least we can do is put a mask on. It is not an onerous burden.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people wear masks indoors when they are in public places located in regions of the U.S. with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
The Associated Press said that the governor expressed frustration with those who have declined to get vaccinated or utilize masks.
“Do you give a damn? I hope you do. I do,” the governor said, according to the AP. “I’ve heard it said often: Louisiana’s the most pro-life state in the nation. I want to believe that. It ought to mean something.”