The Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office says it will not enforce Gov. John Bel Edwards' mandate issued Saturday that anyone in public must wear a mask as of Monday, though people could still face criminal charges in certain circumstances.
Edwards announced the mandatory mask requirement for any person over the age of 8 during a news conference Saturday. He also issued an order closing all bars (alcoholic beverages may be obtained through curbside pick-up) and limiting all social gatherings to 50 people.
The Sheriff's Office noted Edwards' order was a mandate, not a law.
"Many are questioning the enforcement guidelines that will be taken regarding the mandate," said Glenn Springfield, the sheriff's public information officer. "This is a mandate, not a law. In announcing the mandate, Governor Edwards himself says it will not be enforceable by law enforcement agencies."
That did not mean people would evade arrest for not wearing a mask, the Sheriff's Office noted. If a business requires its customers to wear a mask, the customers must comply or face possible criminal charges.
"However, businesses are required to insist customers wear masks," Springfield said. "If you enter a business and are told to wear a mask, compliance is expected. Business owners do have the right to require customers to wear masks and ask them to leave if they do not.
"Should the customer refuse the business owners request and also refuse to leave when asked to leave for non-compliance, the customer could possibly face criminal charges of trespassing for refusing to leave the premises after being told to do so. If you are asked to leave, then do so to avoid this situation."