Department of Health spokeswoman Aly Neel said the agency revoked the food license for Firehouse BBQ after repeated efforts to get the company to comply with the latter’s mask and social distancing rules. days.
LDH sent a health worker to inspect the restaurant after the state received several complaints. After giving the owner a report – which included masking violations for employees and customers, along with poorly spaced tables – the owner declined to make any changes.
A copy of the order delivered by the health department shows that the restaurant is owned by Eunice and Danielle Bunch through God’s Table, LLC. When reached by phone on Saturday, a restaurant worker declined to comment or connect a reporter with the owner.
In a Facebook post pinned to the restaurant’s profile, the owner writes that the masks are unnecessary and claims they have “caused several medical reactions” to employees.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and a wide range of health experts have urged the public to wear masks to limit the spread of viral droplets from the wearer to others. And the White House coronavirus task force recently said that widespread use of masks was one of the few ways to prevent more home orders.
In another Facebook post on Saturday, the company wrote that “despite the attempt to execute an illegal warrant, we are conducting our business as usual,” with an image of a cartoon character and the words “Yes, we are open”. The post encouraged customers to “show your support” by frequenting the restaurant to help pay a lawyer “who will fight for your rights and ours as citizens.”
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The move marks the first time the Edwards administration has taken serious action against a restaurant in violation of coronavirus rules, which require companies to force employees and customers to wear masks.
The Edwards administration has taken a lax approach to enforcing its restrictions so far, hesitant to penalize companies.
Instead, the fire marshal and the health department gave companies several opportunities to comply, operating under the “three-strike” rule.
Neel said the Health Department would wait to file a lawsuit against the company until Wednesday, when a judge is expected to rule in a separate lawsuit brought by several bars in the Acadiana area against the rules on the coronaviruses that effectively shut them down.
The state fire marshal and the Edwards administration ordered four bars to close last week after discovering they allowed large crowds or on-site drinking. Bars have been closed for in-person consumption since early July, when Edwards changed his Phase 2 executive order and closed bars and demanded masks statewide when people are in public.
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The Fire Hall is located in Denham Springs, a Republican stronghold represented at State House by Representative Valarie Hodges, who has supported efforts to end coronavirus restrictions.
Firehouse wrote on Facebook that “Customers and employees have the option of wearing a mask or not. It is not mandatory in our store. As we have been for a while, we are open to dining with customers. ”
Writer Jackie DeRobertis contributed to this story.