BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Multiple state agencies are investigating a large concert held in Grand Isle, La. during the last weekend in July to determine if any state mandates tied to coronavirus were violated. Most people in the crowd were standing side-by-side and were not wearing masks.
The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal (LAOSFM), Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), and the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) are all investigating the Saturday night concert.
Late Monday, July 27, the state revoked the permit for Sand Dollar Tiki Bar in Grand Isle, pending a hearing, claiming the establishment was serving drinks to the crowd and allowing them to remain on the premises to consume those drinks despite the limitations of its bar permit.
The Sand Dollar Tiki Bar is next to where the concert was held.
“In response to multiple complaints regarding a large, non-socially distanced crowd at an outdoor pavilion in Grand Isle over the weekend, the Sand Dollar Tiki Bar was found to have been serving drinks to the crowd and allowing them to remain on premises to consume those drinks despite the limitations of its bar permit. The investigation into this case is ongoing,” Ashley Rodrigue, a spokesperson for LAOSFM, said in a statement.
Grand Isle Police Chief Laine Landry told New Orleans television station WVUE that he was “extremely frustrated” at seeing the event take place, but said he does not know of any powers that the police department has to legally disperse a crowd that’s thought to be violating the state mandate. Landry said he believes LAOFSM should have “taken a stance or taken the lead” in investigating the concert.
However, Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says his office did not approve that event. Browning says his office got complaints about the event before it started. He says someone went out to speak with the event organizers, but couldn’t find them.
“We didn’t know who the organizers were. In speaking with the Sand Dollar Isle owners, they advised us that the next door property that belongs to the parish, there is a concert planed,” Browning said. “It’s not fair to the vast majority of our businesses that are doing the right thing, ‘cause there’s a lot of right ways of doing things and we’re trying to advocate how to do it.”
Rodrigue says a deputy with her agency was on the island Saturday afternoon, but he was not made aware that the large concert was planned for later that evening. She goes on to say part of the state investigation is focusing on whether retail outlets in the area improperly sold alcohol to those attending the event.
“We are very disturbed with what we saw, no matter where it’s at in the State of Louisiana,” Browning said.
The band, Parish-County Line, based in Baton Rouge, performed to the crowd, which appeared to be made up of several hundred people, with most standing directly next to one another, according to videos circulated on social media. Many in the crowd were not wearing masks, which are also mandated by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards as part of preventative measures tied to the coronavirus outbreak in the state.
The governor’s mandate only allows for outdoor crowds of up to 50 people, if social distancing is not possible. If social distancing of at least six feet is possible and being adhered to, there is not a limit on crowd size.
The event took place under a private pavilion at the end of the island next to a parish-owned pavilion used for the annual Tarpon Rodeo, which was postponed this year.
Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle said Monday that he was not aware the event was planned.
ATC also suspended the bar permits for public safety violations at three other bars in the state. Those bars include:
- Frosty Factory, 4688 Common St., Lake Charles
- Pelican Pub, 6473 LA 44, Gonzales
- Wo-de’s Chill Spot, 3400 Westbank Expressway, Harvey
“Multiple inspections conducted at the Frosty Factory by state fire marshal deputies and Louisiana Department of Health sanitarians found violations of the governor’s order including being open to and serving members of the public inside the bar this past weekend. Multiple inspections conducted at Pelican Pub by state fire marshal deputies and ATC agents found violations of the governor’s order, including being open to and serving members of the public inside the bar this past weekend. Lastly, in response to complaints over the weekend regarding a large, non-socially distanced crowd outside of Wo-de’s Chill Spot, the bar was found to have been open to and serving members of the public inside,” Rodrigue said.
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