The rise of new COVID-19 cases has prompted more local restaurants and bars to temporarily close their doors for the second time. The closures came as Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Monday that Phase 2 of reopening would continue for another 28 days.
A Monday post on Casa Manana's Facebook page stated that the restaurant was closing temporarily. Meanwhile, Cowboys Night Club posted on June 18 that it was closing on June 20 because of the recent spread of COVID-19 cases.
Luna Bar and Grill, along with Nina P's Cafe, both announced last week that they would shut down temporarily. OB's Bar and Grill closed over the past weekend to keep patrons and staff safe.
The governor said extending Phase 2 through late July was done because of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations related to the virus. He also discussed ramping up efforts to make sure businesses take the recommended steps to protect workers and customers.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Tuesday that he understands the governor's decision to keep Phase 2 in place for the next few weeks, based on the case data.
"I do think there's a segment of the population that, for whatever reason, doesn't believe COVID-19 is serious, or they're somehow immune to it," he said.
Hunter said the closing of local establishments should be a wake-up call for the community, especially young adults who are not worried about the health impacts of COVID-19.
"They should be worried about being able to pay their bills and put food on their table," he said. "A lot of people thought moving into Phase 2 meant COVID-19 magically disappeared. That is absolutely not the case."
Hunter said he has heard from area business owners that are frustrated with having to close for a second time.
"Just being closed one day is significant," the mayor said. "To be closed for an extended period of time, or be limited to take out and then to reopen and close again, is a real burden for these businesses. I feel for them, but I also understand their logic in being cautious."
Hunter said the recent COVID case numbers forced the city to hold its upcoming July 4 celebration, Red, White, Blue and You, as a virtual event. He said hosting the outdoor event in its traditional format "would not be the right thing to do for the citizens."
"It packs thousands of people on the Civic Center grounds and beach," Hunter said. "A lot of people drive in from other areas. The idea of trying to control a crowd of that size would be a daunting task."
Hunter said residents can still enjoy the event, including entertainment and fireworks, from their home.
"We really felt it was the safe and right thing to do," he said.
Hunter said the city continues to take precautions to protect its employees. An email was sent to city employees, reminding them to follow all safety protocols.
"We cannot get lax right now," Hunter said.