Face mask mandate for workers in Louisiana starts Friday

Disobeying the governor’s order could cost you up to $500 and six months in jail

Starting May 1, all Louisiana workers must wear a mask to help contain spread of COVID-19

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The clock is ticking down to a new mandate for all employees in Louisiana.

Starting May 1, an employee must wear a face mask if the worker has contact with members of the public.

And disobeying the order by Gov. John Bel Edwards could lead to you being charged with a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

It’s among the latest efforts to fight off the coronavirus.

Edwards announced the mandate this week when he also said he was extending his stay-at-home order until mid-May.

Ignoring Louisiana governor's mask mandate could cost you $500 and 6 months in jail

KSLA News 12 wanted to see whether employees already are wearing face masks at local businesses.

So we paid a visit to half a dozen stores of all kinds to see for ourselves.

Going from grocery and drugstores and from home improvement to big box stores, you quickly realize that many companies already have policies in place for employees to wear masks.

And customers say they get it.

“It’s a precaution. So better safe than sorry. You never know what the hidden enemy is,” said a shopper who asked to identified as Kevin.

But as we traveled in and out of these stores, you could easily spot stark differences between some of them.

That ranged from all employees wearing masks in some places to less than half in others.

Kevin told us he understands that the mask you wear isn't necessarily there to protect you.

“Well, it’s like my mask protecting you from me. So that’s how I look at it.”

And we met plenty of shoppers, like Barbara Bowman, who fully support the mask policies.

"Oh, absolutely. Yeah, you know, I want as much as anyone else to get back to normal. And to, you know, find a vaccine and a treatment and be able to live our new norm."

In fact, Bowman is among people who says seeing employees without a mask on already is a deal breaker.

“Oh, yes! There are places I won’t go, you know, drive-throughs. You’re not wearing your mask, I’m not going.”

Edwards also has encouraged businesses to require their customers to wear masks.

Janet Taylor bristled at the notion that some people think wearing a face mask is overkill.

"No! I think it's great and I think everyone should."

Taylor said it boils down to protecting people like her who have pre-existing medical conditions.

“I’ve got asthma. I want to be protected and I want to protect somebody else too, you know. I’m not really afraid. But I just think it’s a smart thing to do.”

There is a point where safety measures can veer off from viral protection to something else entirely.

“I see people in the stores and they’ve, you know, they’ve got the masks on, they’ve got like some sort of gator-looking thing here and gloves on," Linda Thompson explained.

"And, I mean, I don’t, personally I don’t think that all that’s necessary. But I do think you have to be cautious.”

Now well over a month into our new normal and with face masks seen everywhere, there is perhaps less pushback from the public now.

That's likely because we have slowly grown accustomed to this new, more careful way of living.

That said, Bowman said there are some people who flat out don’t want to wear a mask — period.

“We’ll always have people who will not toe the line. But, you know, it’s a shame. But it’s the way it is, human nature.”

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