Evangeline Parish bars close immediately; other parishes to follow next week

State News

EVANGELINE PARISH, La. (KLFY) — As coronavirus cases increase across the state, some restrictions we thought were behind us are returning. Positive test percentages have increased since last week in all Acadiana parishes. Evangeline parish has seen over 10% COVID-19 positivity rates in the past two weeks. As per the governor’s phase three orders, bars there must close.

Donny’s Place in Ville Platte had to close “effective immediately”. The staff said this came without warning, but numbers show other parishes could follow suit next week, so consider yourself warned now.

“I can’t go through another seven months like this,” admitted Donny Spears. Donny’s Place has been a Ville Platte staple for 27 years, but 2020 could not be predicted.

Louisiana bars closed for seven months, but Donny Spears says when his place reopened, it didn’t even last seven weeks. Now he’s doubtful his small business will ever open again.

“I imagine you kind of have one foot in the door, one foot out the door right now?”, News 10 reporter Neale Zeringue asked.

“I’ve probably got two of them out. Just my but stuck in the door,” Spears replied.

Evangeline Parish is the fourth parish in the state forced to opt-out of reopening bars because 10% of COVID-19 tests returned positive for two weeks in a row. 32 other parishes have not regressed to that threshold, but statistics show many may only be a week behind.

Spears’ biggest complaint is that he’s closed while restaurants that serve alcohol are able to remain open with up to 75% capacity.

“I can see them making us go back down to 25%, but to shut us totally and leave the restaurants at 75%? That doesn’t make much sense,” Spears said.

He is not sure how the cases increased but guessed children at school may be a contributor. He may be on to something at least in Acadiana.

Children ages 5-17 are the second-largest contributing group in the current wave compared to next to last during the summer wave. Ages 18-29 consistently led the pack then and now, but at least at the moment, only bars feel the difference.

“I don’t understand why everybody else gets to stay open,” said Spears. “I think it’s unfair. I think they’re targeting one area.”

The only way for bars in Evangeline Parish to reopen is the same way as Donny’s Place reopened six weeks ago. The parish percent positivity must drop below 5% for two weeks in a row in order to opt back in.

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