It’s an unprecedented time for the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office. The office is now called upon to investigate complaints related to the guidelines set by the governor for reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.
The complaints from the public are about businesses and other establishments not following guidelines under Phase 2 reopening.
State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the type of complaint they get the most are about mask-wearing. The #2 complaint is about businesses that are open, but people believe they are not allowed to be open, like indoor amusements. The #3 complaint is concerns about 4th of July events.
“We’ve got to take a more proactive step and find every situation where this virus is being spread and stop the spread,” said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning. “We’re getting more aggressive in going out and talking to people and working with people.”
“I think those larger numbers are reflective of the awareness of the general public, and that’s a good thing,” said Browning.
The complaints received are for all establishments: restaurants, stores, bars, gyms, ball parks, etc.
During Phase 1 of reopening (May 15 to June 4) there were 92 complaints statewide. In Phase 2 (June 5 to present) that number has multiplied to 483 complaints.
In Acadiana, there were 11 Phase 1 complaints. There have been 89 complaints in Phase 2.
“I think as time has passed individuals have gotten lackadaisical. What we’re seeing is…the employees wearing masks, ok. They would wear them diligently. Now we go into a restaurant and they’re wearing it underneath their nose.”
Some of the complaints taken so far include: six foot minimum social distancing between groups not maintained, crowd managers are not controlling occupancy, and employees are not wearing personal protective equipment.
Browning says people should continue to follow the guidelines to protect each other, and themselves.
“This is why complacency and preventing complacency is so important. People think, last week’s been great, numbers are down. We start doing things and then you go two weeks, 14 days later, and we’re in a bad situation.”
If you would like to file a complaint about people not following the Phase 2 guidelines, call the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office at 1-800-256-5452.