In accordance with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ recent executive order, St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell announced that the mask mandate in St. Charles Parish has been lifted and that businesses now retain the authority to require masks for their employees and patrons.
The news was welcomed by many small business owners across the parish.
“We are glad to see the mask mandate being lifted and we are optimistic that fewer restrictions, along with the availability of the vaccine for those who choose to receive it, will lead to people being able to enjoy themselves again,” Ron St. Pierre, an operating partner at Truck Farm Tavern in St. Rose, said. “We will not require customers or employees to wear masks. We do require frequent hand washing and sanitation throughout the restaurant, in addition to providing outdoor seating.”
St. Pierre said he feels fortunate that the community has embraced the restaurant and continued to support it through the pandemic.
“While our business continues to grow, we face the same challenge of others in our industry – finding manpower to fill open positions,” St. Pierre said. “Our employees are the heart and soul of our operation … those who have been with us have often worked in excess of 60 hours a week just so we can stay open. We are hopeful that the end of the mask mandate will signal that it is time for everyone to get back to work.”
April Ball, manager of Taste of Tokyo in Destrehan, also was happy to hear about the lifted mandate.
“Many of our customers were very ready,” she said. “I don’t know that the mandate lift will improve business … I don’t think people were letting the masks keep them from going out and doing what they wanted and needed to do, but I know it will make them more comfortable.”
Ball said her restaurant will not require customers to wear a mask, but that the establishment’s employees will still be wearing theirs.
Nealie Savoie, who owns Luling’s Cherry Lane Boutique with her sister Angelle LeBlanc, said she and her employees will continue to respect the masking practices of their customers.
“Either way we’ll respect our customers,” she said. “If someone comes in with their mask on and they choose not to take theirs off, we’ll mask up as well.”
Savoie said she’s personally happy that people will have a choice whether they choose to mask up, but that the store would continue to cater to shoppers who may not be comfortable being without a mask.
“We have customers who come often who have immunity issues or cancer and we mask up for their safety,” she said. “We want them to feel safe and comfortable shopping with us.
Katie Hymel, chef and owner Honeydoux Cafe and Bakery, said she was excited when she heard about the mask mandate being lifted because “it means we are moving forward.”
“It gives people a sense of hope that things will be somewhat back to normal sooner rather than later,” she said. “I believe the mask mandate being lifted will help my business because maybe people will feel more comfortable getting out in public. The benefit to my business is getting to see the smile people get from enjoying our food and the smile our customers can give to welcome our guests.”
Hymel said she will not require a mask for guests, but that her employees are still wearing masks for now.
“I am planning to remove the requirement for employees to wear masks very soon,” she said. “Lately business has been pretty steady … not as busy as I would like, but we have been steady with orders.”
Based on the Edwards’ order, masks are still required on public transit, in K-12 schools, colleges and health care facilities. State buildings such as the DMV will also continue to adhere to mask wearing and social distancing.
The mask mandate is lifted for all St. Charles Parish government buildings, including the courthouse. Additionally, temperature checks will no longer be required to enter government buildings.
Masks are still required in parish courtrooms per orders by the 29th Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Charles.
Due to the size of the parish council chambers and the inability to properly social distance, masks will still be required during meetings taking place in the council chambers.