State Sets Sights on Businesses that ‘Look the Other Way’
Masks are now a way of life for all of us. Even the staunchest "no-maskers" have to deal with the fact that 90+ percent of the businesses out there have fallen in line with the State of Louisiana's mask mandate. According to governor John Bel Edwards' official decree - basically everyone in the Sportsman's Paradise ages 8 and up must wear a mask in public with these few exceptions:
- Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
- Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
- Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
- Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
- Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
- Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate
Some businesses claim to have found a loophole to exploit in order to gain the business of those who choose not to mask up. The reason is rooted in the belief that it's a violation of HIPAA for your medical information to be disclosed without your express permission - that first exception you saw listed above gives businesses an opening to simply assume patrons aren't wearing the mask for undisclosed medical reasons. It's kind of like "Don't ask don't tell, " just with the public's health and ultimately the financial health of our state at stake.
According to the official statement from the Louisiana State Fire Marshall, this is simply not true. In fact - officials are making a list of businesses that they think are violating the order based on their defiant Facebook posts, and visiting each establishment one by one. In a report from WAFB, the Marshall said:
"Commercial businesses are not a HIPAA-covered entity. Even if they were, it is impossible to violate HIPAA by merely asking an individual to voluntarily disclose their
own protected health information.
The Fourth Amendment limits the actions of the government, not of private individuals or entities. Asking an individual about their medical condition is not a search or seizure. If an individual wants to enter the store, they must wear a mask. The Governor made it clear that if individuals allege a medical condition, there would be no further inquiry."