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Stay at home, officials urge

BATON ROUGE — St. John the Baptist Parish residents are permitted to report to essential jobs, go outside for exercise and fresh air, and visit grocery stores and pharmacies to pick up food, medicine and necessary supplies while practicing social distancing.

In all other situations, residents are advised to stay home to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Governor John Bel Edwards’ Stay at Home Order will remain in effect untilhe end of the night on Sunday, April 12, unless re-evaluation determines the order should be extended beyond the original deadline.

As of press time Tuesday, St. John the Baptist Parish had 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Neighboring parishes St. Charles and St. James had 15 and nine cases, respectively, and Louisiana as a whole had 1,388 reported cases. Numbers have increased dramatically within the past week as additional testing opportunities become available.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard appeared alongside area parish presidents and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a recent joint press conference. On Tuesday, Hotard reminded the public to abide by the rules officials have set to promote public safety.

“We are asking all residents in St. John to comply with the governor’s Stay at Home Order,” Hotard said. “If you must go out, please only go for essentials and maintain social distancing and sanitizing practices. We know these upcoming weeks will be challenging for everyone, but I am confident that the residents of St. John will continue to do their part to stop the spread and flatten the curve.” [Editor’s note: An explanation of “flattening the curve” is presented on page 9A of this edition.]

St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell reinforced the precautions.

“It is imperative that everyone takes these orders seriously and that we all do our part to flatten the curve and minimize the spread of this virus,” Jewell said. “Act as if you have the virus and isolate as much as possible. Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open and will continue to get deliveries, so there is no need for residents to hoard any supplies.”

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said the public seems to be complying with the order thus far.

“We have not been having any serious problems or issues with gatherings of large groups that SJSO has had to disperse at any businesses, but we will, if we have to,” Tregre said.

The new Stay at Home order has limits on the following:

  • All places of public amusement, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, pool halls, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, any theaters, concert and music halls, adult entertainment venues, racetracks, and other similar businesses.
  • All personal care and grooming businesses, including but not limited to, barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and other similar businesses.
  • All malls (except for stores in a mall that have a direct outdoor entrance/exit) that provide essential services/products as provided by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidelines.

Businesses closed to the public as listed in the order can conduct necessary activities such as payroll, cleaning services, maintenance or upkeep as necessary.

Any business not ordered to temporarily close must reduce operations to continue with minimum contact with members of the public and essential employees, while requiring proper social distancing, adhering to the 10-person limitation on gathering size.

Early learning centers and child care facilities adhering to the guidance issued by the Louisiana Department of Education and Office of Public Health may continue to operate.

Other actions taken by the Governor include the moving of state elections; limiting of crowd size; closing of all K-12 public schools, casinos, bars, movie theatres, gyms and fitness centers as well as restricting restaurants to take-out, drive-through and delivery services.

Examples of Essential Worker Functions that will continue to serve the community include the following: Healthcare workers and caregivers; Mental health and Social Service workers; Pharmacy employees; Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail sales of food and beverage products; Restaurant carryout and quick-serve food operations and food delivery employees; Farm workers; Electricity and Utility Industry Employees; Critical Manufacturing Employees (medical supply chains, energy, transportation, food, chemicals); Petroleum, Natural and Propane Gas Workers; Transportation and logistics workers; Communications and Information Technology Employees; and Financial Services and Banking Industry Employees.

“In Louisiana we have taken aggressive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve; however, this is not enough,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “As our number of cases continue to grow, I am directing all Louisianans to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave. I am implementing this measure to help prevent you from becoming infected or infecting someone else.”