Federal judge in New Orleans denies bar owners motion to block enforcement of Gov. Edwards’s COVID-19 restriction to close bars

State News

A shuttered business is seen in the French Quarter in New Orleans on March 26, 2020, during the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by EMILY KASK/ 30203169A/ AFP via Getty Images

BATON ROUGE – On Monday, Judge Martin L.C. Feldman in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, upheld restrictions on bars in the state as part of its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana.

The document reads, “On this record, the Court is compelled to conclude that Governor Edwards’ ban of on-site consumption of food or drinks at “bars” bears a “real or substantial relation” to the goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and is not “beyond all question” a violation of the bar owners’ constitutional rights. It is a permissible public-health measure under Jacobson and Abbott, and the Court is denied the discretion to second-guess it. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED: that the bar owners’ motion for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief is DENIED. All pending motions are DENIED as moot.”

In response to the decision, Gov. Edwards released the following statement:  

“I am pleased that Judge Feldman upheld bar restrictions, which is one of the critical mitigation measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana to protect and save lives. The evidence is clear that mask mandates and closing on-site consumption at bars work, and more than a month after implementing both measures in Louisiana the data shows they are working.”  

“My orders are consistent with my authority and also with recommendations of public health experts and President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, which puts Louisiana in the “red zone” for new cases and “yellow zone” for testing positivity rates and recommends bar closures as part of the strategy to slow the spread of this illness. We have already lost more than 4,400 Louisianans to this illness, and we must take every action we can to fight for the health of our state. I know these orders are hard on business owners, and I did not undertake them lightly. However, they offer the best shot for us to be able to open as much of our economy as possible while still keeping the ability to provide life-saving health care in our hospitals.” 

Read the entire court document here.

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