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PA, Mid-County businesses adjust to facemask order

When entering Judice’s 1927, customers are greeted with a facemask-wearing hostess who takes your temperature while saying hello.

Waitresses, bussers and bartenders are also wearing facemasks as they go about their duties in the Nederland restaurant.

“We’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing,” said John Hersey, co-owner and head chef. “Anyone at the front is wearing a mask. This is for everyone’s safety and also for the customers to know they are coming to a safe spot. Right now there’s a lot of uncertainty but we are doing our part.”

Katrina Moreno, hostess and head of wait staff at Judice’s 1927, waits to greet customers. (Mary Meaux/The News)

An order by Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick requiring employees and visitors to commercial entities and business to wear a face covering went effective at 12:01 p.m. Wednesday. It is in effect through June 30 unless extended, modified or terminated by Branick.

Commercial businesses that provide goods and services can face a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation if they fail to develop and implement the Health and Safety Policy.

“We still take temperatures at the door, that’s not gone away. Any step we can possibly do to make customers feel safe coming in,” Hersey said, adding employees’ temperatures are checked when they arrive in the front door.

Signs posted on the front door at Howard’s Automotive & Industrial Supply in Port Arthur alert the customer that he or she must wear a face mask to enter the business and a second sign says if the customer is sick to remain outside and call as they do their best to limit the spread of the virus to employees and customers.

Brian Terrell, salesperson at Howard’s Automotive & Industrial Supply, said the company is complying with the recent order requiring facemasks. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Brian Terrell, a sales person, said they are aware of the judge’s order and have a plan in place.

They are monitoring who comes in the store and have masks available for customers if needed.

“We try to accommodate the customers as much as possible and heed the law at the same time,” Terrell said.

The front desk area has a sneeze guard, or Plexiglass. Employees try to sanitize their hands after handling money and credit or debit cards, as well as practice good basic hygiene.

Employee Floyd Thibodeaux said the business stayed open during the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic and had a tent outside. Employees would help customers outside the shop, he said.

Signs on the front door at Howard’s Automotive & Industrial Supply alert customers of the new order to wear facemasks. 

Some places are limiting services to curbside only.

The Avenue Coffee & Café in Port Neches went back to curbside-only service on Wednesday.

“We just stopped curbside only a week-and-a-half ago,” David Pool, co-owner, said. “We waited a little bit longer than others to make sure we were prepared and, like a lot of others, remodeling.”

The ordinance didn’t kick in place until just after noon Wednesday but regular customers already knew what to do.

The café also has an online ordering platform and app that remembers regular orders — something that Pool encourages.

“The biggest thing as to why we went back to curbside. We are a small place and not a big staff,” he said. “We felt focusing on quality of product going out the door then having the staff monitor masks seemed to be the best, to focus on what service we can provide.”

Pool also owns Mid-County Farm and Feed in Nederland that has animal feed, pet supplies, garden necessities such as plants, seeds and more.

He and employees there are working with the judge’s order and are aware of the penalties for non-compliance, so they are offering curbside pick-up for those not choosing to wear a mask. Just call and let them know.

“When it comes down to it, myself and all staff at either place have a living to make,” he said. “Whether you agree with the order or not, for us as a business it’s irrelevant. We have a duty to serve our customers regardless of what they think. We will do anything we can to serve our customers and keep our staff and customers protected.”