City urges businesses, residents to take time to prepare

Scott J. Anderson

When Gov. John Bel Edwards extended the state's Stay-at-Home order on Monday, it did not come as a complete surprise to Gonzales city officials.

"We were eager to get everybody back to work, but we want to do it safely," Mayor Barney Arceneaux said. "We know the governor has access to all of the best information available, and we support his decision."

Scot Byrd, chief administrative officer for the city, said that before the official announcement, he and Arceneaux thought it was a "coin flip" as to whether Edwards would rescind or extend the order.

Byrd said he is encouraging managers at local retailers and restaurants that he is speaking with to take the next two weeks to prepare their businesses and their staffs to be ready to reopen on May 16, even if it is on a limited basis.

"We're recommending to people that they take this two weeks to prepare," Byrd said. "They need to train their employees on the proper use of PPEs. The governor added that requirement about wearing face masks in proximity to customers. Some people don't have the training they need to wear face masks. If your hands are contaminated and you touch your mask, your mask is now contaminated."

Byrd said similar training is needed on the proper use of gloves, hand sanitizer and other PPE. Business owners also can use this time to ensure they have enough PPE on hand to reopen.

It's also a good time to adjust the layout of stores and restaurants to accommodate proper social distancing.

"I'm hoping retailers take advantage of this time," he said. "The message is being sent out there. As we're talking to people, and the Chamber of Commerce is talking to people, we're putting those recommendations out to people so we can open up safely May 16."

Byrd urged resident and businesses alike to remain patient and steadfast as the Stay-at-Home order continues.

"The only thing worse than shutting down for two months is to shut down for four months," he said. "That would be the worst thing to happen. Timing is the most important decision any elected official has to make.

"God bless everybody and be safe."