Facebook via Governor John Bel Edwards

In a press conference today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced a statewide mask mandate as part of new restrictions as the Louisiana Department of Health continues to report 2,000+ COVID-19 case numbers.

The announcement comes as hospitalizations also continue to rise across Acadiana and the state. Masks will be mandated for people 8-years-old and older, except for those with medical exemptions. There are three parishes that may opt-out of the order - Grant, Red River, and West Feliciana Parishes. "But it is still strongly encouraged that everyone who can do so wear a face mask outside the home," said Gov. Edwards.

Gov. Edwards says all bars with and without a food permit will be closed, but can operate for curbside pickup. Restaurants will stay open. Churches will also be able to stay open at current capacity.

Even with the added restrictions, the state will stay in Phase 2 and not drop down to Phase 1. Notably, schools cannot be open during Phase 1.

The changes will go into effect on Monday night.

Gov. Edwards announced that we are #3 in the country for cases per capita.

“We have no reason to believe the numbers we are seeing are going to get better. In fact, they’re going to get worse,” said the Governor.

Medical professionals joined the Governor for the announcement.

Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter pointed out that people ages 18-29 are still overwhelmingly the highest growing age group in new COVID-19 cases and that they are also seeing more spread from younger patients to older people.

Dr. Catherine O'Neal of Our Lady of Lourdes pointed out that a third of COVID-19 patients in the hospital are in ICU.

"I know that this is an unpopular thing to do," said Governor Edwards, speaking about the mask mandate. "I don't like it. But it is the necessary thing to do. We are not going to let this virus win. We cannot let this illness win. If you want to keep the economy open, not go back to phase one, open schools next month, these are minor prices to pay, especially those who don't like putting on a face cover."

He did mention that they are not looking to write citations for citizens who are not wearing face masks.

"It's not going to be a first resort," said the Governor in response to what kind of penalty would be given to a person not wearing a mask.

Gov. Edwards mentioned that business owners, however, would be cited for not following the mask protocol for businesses.

You can WATCH his press conference by CLICKING BELOW: