Businesses in Louisiana concerned about COVID-19 code enforcement

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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WGNO) – With Coronavirus cases surging, the City of New Orleans could announce tougher restrictions tomorrow on businesses.

Some business owners claim the rules are not enforced fairly.

Now, a Lakeview resident and business owner says someone needs to stand up for small businesses, especially when it comes to COVID-19 enforcement measures.

Adrian Bruneau, the founder of Presidio Strategic Solutions, a consulting firm believes there is selective enforcement of Governor John Bel Edwards’ Coronavirus mandates as well as Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s.

“Let’s be honest. I mean, the system of checks and balances that we have in place to keep executives from abusing their powers is not being utilized,” Bruneau said.

On Monday, Bruneau requested on social media for businesses cited, fined or shut down to contact him. So far, nearly 50 businesses from across the state have reached out; including The Basin and The Tasting Room New Orleans.

“Sure, I think all of these businesses are perfectly happy with everybody being safe, but we can’t shut everything down,” Bruneau said. “We have to be smart about this and we have to keep an economy going.”

Bruneau maintains business owners’ rights are being violated and small businesses are being targeted more than the big box stores. He wants a constitutional amendment or a new law to clearly define COVID-19 enforcement standards.

“The problem is enforcement and the problem is if you’re denying a business a basic hearing, you’re denying them a right to due process and that’s our system of government,” said Bruneau.

His company is considering filing suit, but they do acknowledge COVID-19 is real.

“I don’t see the relevance of shutting down the economy for one percent that is a risk group,” Bruneau said.

Governor John Bel Edwards’ office said they cannot comment on a potential suit.

A spokesperson for the Governor said, “There are good and bad actors and enforcement is taking place, but we cannot enforce our way out of this which is why the state needs more compliance from individuals and businesses.” Edwards’ office says guidelines on enforcement are outlined on opensafely.la.gov and in his proclamations following guideance from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Edwards’ staffer went on to say if anyone has questions about the guidelines, they can also contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Meanwhile, Beau Tidwell, Communications Director for the City of New Orleans said, “Enforcement efforts around the public health guidelines in New Orleans are enacted in every instance with an emphasis on fairness and equity.”

Tidwell went on to say, “We are working towards a safer City and a less dangerous public health environment as a shared goal, not just driving top-down mandates. Our Code Enforcement teams have largely achieved compliance by verbal warning, rather than shut-downs and citations.”

Tidwell said, “Clearly defined guidelines are available online, and are updated as conditions require — with full details provided on the site and promoted on social media through @NOLAReady. Residents and business owners can view them at any time by visiting ready.nola.gov.”

Click here to read more about safely reopening in New Orleans and click here to read about a modified phase 2.

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