Two Louisiana federal judges have refused to immediately stop enforcement of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus order prohibiting bars from letting customers drink onsite.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette on Friday denied the temporary restraining order requested by 11 Acadiana area bar owners who filed a lawsuit challenging Edwards’ decision limiting bars to takeout and delivery.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans rejected a similar restraining order sought by 22 southeast Louisiana bar owners who filed the same lawsuit in their regional federal court.
Feldman set an Aug. 14 hearing to consider further arguments in the New Orleans case. Summerhays set an Aug. 17 Lafayette hearing.
The bar owners argue the Democratic governor’s restrictions are unconstitutional, unlawfully targeting one business sector without enough evidence to back up Edwards’ assertion that bars are driving the spread of the COVID-19 disease more than any other businesses.
The governor and his health advisers say bars have shown to be specifically problematic because people tend to huddle closely together inside without masks while drinking and lapse in their virus precautions the more alcohol they consume.
The White House coronavirus task force recommended Louisiana close bars to reduce public health risks and lessen the spread of the virus.