Mask up, New Orleans!
With the recent opening of many long-closed bars, a surge in porch concerts, and the general vibes that, “Huh, maybe we’re through the worst of it” many residents of the Big Easy have been taking it easy when it comes to following COVID-19 restrictions.
And our mayor has noticed.
Today, Mayor Latoya Cantrell released a statement that she’s given permission to the NOPD to fine people up to $500 for not wearing masks.
The move, which followed the recent leap to Phase 3.2 of reopening, is Cantrell’s way of reminding New Orleans: although we have some of our favorite bars, venues, and musicians back, we are not through this pandemic yet.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, not wearing a mask in public has been classified as a misdemeanor crime, which meant that it could result in a fine of up to $500 or even jail time.
Of course, until now, wearing a mask has not been enforced by police in New Orleans. How strictly police will enforce this new rule, what areas they will target, and who they will target is yet to be seen.
After all, the rules of where you must wear a mask are broad extending to all public spaces unless you are eating, drinking, or enjoying personal recreation.
Worried because you don’t have $500 to pay the fine?
Then you will be given the option of doing, “litter abatement” which would involve picking up litter in public spaces like City or Audubon Park for a day.
Of course, it should be noted that people who have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing masks will not be targeted by this new policy. They are still legally protected and do not have to wear a mask.
The rest of us? Well, we better become a little more vigilant.