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Bars in New Orleans Can Open for Outdoor Seating This Weekend

And breweries can reopen for on-premise consumption

Customers sit at tables on a sidewalk outside of a corner bar in New Orleans’s French Quarter
Outside Cornet on Bourbon Street on May 16, 2020 
Photo by CLAIRE BANGSER/AFP via Getty Images

Bars in New Orleans will be able to open for limited outdoor seating starting Saturday, October 17, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Thursday, marking a major step forward in a long, complicated timeline of restrictions for the city’s bars throughout the last seven months.

In a press conference Thursday the Mayor confirmed New Orleans would move into phase 3.2 on Saturday, in line with the plan laid out by the city earlier this month. It’s two weeks after the city entered phase 3.1, which allowed bars to offer curbside service for the first time since being shut down entirely in July. Starting Saturday, businesses licensed as bars without food permits can offer outdoor seating at 25 percent capacity for a maximum of 50 people. On-site consumption and alcohol sales are permitted from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., customers must be seated, and bar games are not allowed.

The Mayor also announced that breweries would be included in phase 3.2, saying the city “worked with the state to change some language in its ordinance to allow our breweries with food permits to open.” Details released later Thursday afternoon clarify that breweries without food permits can open with 25 percent outdoor capacity or 50 people, and that breweries with food permits can open with 25 percent of indoor capacity and full capacity outdoors or 50 people, whichever is fewer.

When outlining the phased reopening for bars earlier this month, the city announced they would be eligible to apply for the same outdoor dining grants offered to restaurants earlier this summer, which provide $2,000 to use for building or improving outdoor dining areas. The grant program is part of a broader, long-term initiative by the city to permanently expand outdoor dining and commerce in New Orleans. Turning parking lanes into designated dining areas is the next step in what city official Jeff Schwartz said is an effort “to use the public right of way to better support business activities and other initiatives around the city.”

If coronavirus positivity rates remain consistent for the next two weeks, bars may be able to resume indoor seating at a limited capacity as early as October 31 when the city enters phase 3.3.

UPDATED: October 15, 2020, 4:01 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect that the city will enter phase 3.2 starting Saturday, October 17, not Friday, October 16, as previously indicated by officials.

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