Apr 7, 2020

Governor Edwards Extends the Louisiana State of Emergency For COVID-19 and the duration of the “Stay at Home” Order

On April 2, 2020, Governor Edwards issued Proclamation 41 JBE 2020. This 13-page Proclamation extends Governor Edwards’ prior Proclamations, the first of which was issued on March 11, 2020, and extends the “Stay at Home” Order as a result of the continuing statewide public health emergency presented by COVID-19. It also acts, in part, as a summary document, essentially containing the text of all of his prior Proclamations in one convenient place, though does contain some, new fairly significant language.  

The general Stay at Home Order applies to all individuals within the State of Louisiana.  It operates to suspend all gatherings of 10 or more people indefinitely.  Further, it requires all Louisiana citizens to continue to stay at home since the original Stay Home Order was put into place last month, unless they are “performing an essential activity.” Essential activities are defined to mean only those activities that have the following purposes:

  1. Obtaining food, medicine, and other similar goods necessary for the individual or a family member of the individual.
  2. Obtaining non-elective medical care and treatment and other similar vital services for an individual or a family member of the individual.
  3. Going to and from an individual's workplace to perform a job function necessary to provide goods or services being sought in Subsections (A) and (B) of this Section, or as otherwise deemed essential worker functions. Guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on what workers are essential is outlined at https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19.
  4. Going to and from an individual’s place of employment remaining open under Section 2C of the Proclamation, provided that the employee has been designated as essential. Section 2C provides that any business not specifically ordered to be closed (Non-Essential Businesses) and not covered by the CISA guidance may continued operations only with essential employees and minimal contact with the public, maintaining social distancing and limiting their staffing relating to business operations to 10 people or less.
  5. Going to and from the home of a family member.
  6. Going to and from an individual's place of worship.
  7. Engaging in outdoor activity, provided individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gathering size established in this proclamation.

With respect to "essential worker functions" that would be exempt from the order, the Governor's order cites to the list established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, referred to above as the CISA guidance. The Department states that this list is advisory in nature and should not be viewed as a federal directive or standard in and of itself. The list includes 14 broad categories of essential employment sectors: Healthcare / Public Health; Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders; Food And Agriculture; Energy (Electric, Petroleum,  Natural and Propane Gas); Water and Wastewater; Transportation and Logistics; Public Works; Communications And Information Technology; Other Community-Based Government Operations And Essential Functions; Critical Manufacturing; Hazardous Materials; Financial Services; Chemical; and Defense Industrial Base.

It appears that Governor Edwards' office utilized this list so that interstate commerce would have a uniform, albeit broad, set of rules. However, how local businesses and intrastate commerce should interpret and abide by these broad rules is less clear. If you have questions about the order's applicability to your operations, please contact our office and we will work to get you an answer.

Non-Essential Businesses are to remain closed indefinitely. These businesses include: all places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors (bowling alleys, bars, casinos, racetracks, music and concert halls, theaters, movie theaters, museums, arcades, aquariums, zoos, amusement parks, children’s play centers, playgrounds, etc.); all personal care and grooming businesses; fitness centers, gyms and similar businesses; and all malls, except for stores in a mall that have a direct outdoor entrance and exit that provide essential services and products as defined by CISA guidance (e.g. big box retailers that sell human food, pet food or supplies, or pharmacy/health supplies).  Non-Essential Businesses are not prohibited from conducting activities such as payroll, maintenance or upkeep as necessary.

Further, the Governor’s April 2, 2020 Proclamation continues the restrictions on the sale of on-premises food and beverages by all restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops, but does specifically allow such entities to continue to provide their services in a delivery/take-out fashion.  

Notably the Governor’s April 2, 2020 Proclamation contains new language authorizing the chief law enforcement office of any political subdivision to promulgate any orders (unspecifying the amount or any restrictions on the same) to “protect life and property and to bring the emergency situation under control.”  The example given is the institution of a local curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., however, the language in the Proclamation can be seen to give fairly unfettered freedom to the local governments. See, 41 JBE 2020 at Section 2E.

Additionally, the Governor’s Order also extends all legal deadlines, including those that relate to liberative prescription and peremption.