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Mask mandates are a hot topic all across the United States at the moment and specifically here in our region. Yesterday, Shreveport's face mask mandate went into effect with a lot of outrage. Many in our community did not like the way the executive order was written, how punishments were directed strictly at businesses or how late businesses were given notice on the rules they were supposed to enforce.

Meanwhile, the Caddo Commission is expected to vote on their own mask mandate today during their Zoom meeting (which, if you want to watch, starts at 3:30 pm). And while both mandates are similar, there are some key differences. You can read the proposal for yourself on the Caddo Commission website.

The first thing that jumped off the page at me while reading over the proposed mandate for Caddo was this line here: "Business establishments may contact the Parish for an allocation of free masks from its limited supply." Which is reasonable and makes sense. If you don't have a mask for whatever reason, one will be provided to you. And it comes at no additional cost to the business. That seems like a reasonable and logical step. And to me, if you're going to mandate a citizen to have an item, it should be provided to them. Personally, to me, that's kind of a big deal.

The next big difference between the two orders is the enforcement/punishment section. In the City of Shreveport, the punishment for businesses can be a severe as having your water shutoff and being closed indefinitely. While there are stricter penalties including revocation of licenses listed in the Caddo mandate, they have escalating steps clearly outlined. First violation is a warning. Second is a fine up to $250. Third is a $500. Plus, there's an expressed description of what is expected from businesses and their staff. It's clear language that's easy to follow.

I don't want to get into the politics or legalities of face masks mandates, but if you're going to have a policy, it should be easy to read and understand. It should be provided to the public to read and understand before it goes into effect. Plus, as an added bonus, the Parish is actually putting the mandate up for a vote and amending it and discussing/debating publicly.

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