Louisiana Suspends 4 Bar Permits, Says Violated Virus Rules

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana has started cracking down on violators of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus restrictions, yanking the permits of four bars found to be violating the governor’s order limiting bars to takeout and delivery.

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control announced Monday evening that it had suspended permits for bars in Grand Isle, Lake Charles, Gonzales and Harvey, making them unable to serve alcohol for at least a week. The agency said state inspectors found the businesses repeatedly disregarded the governor’s order shuttering bars to in-person service, selling drinks to customers who stayed onsite.

The bars have administrative hearings to plead their cases on Aug. 5 and 6 and could face permit suspensions of up to 30 days because of the violations.

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Edwards for months has issued orders restricting business activity in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. But his administration has been reluctant to issue citations and threaten permits of businesses breaking the rules, instead offering “courtesy” visits to try to get businesses in line with the requirements.

Stronger enforcement comes as coronavirus cases continue to soar in Louisiana, with another 2,300 infections confirmed by the state health department Monday. Nearly 3,700 Louisiana residents have died from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, and 1,600 patients with the disease are hospitalized.

The state, which once appeared to successfully reduce the virus’ spread, has returned to one of the nation’s highest per capita infection rates.

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For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe or fatal illness.

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