In a press conference addressing Louisiana’s rising number of coronavirus cases on Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that restaurants in the state must reduce capacity from 75 to 50 percent and that bars in parishes with a higher than five percent positivity rate must cease indoor service.
The executive order, effective tomorrow, November 25, moves Louisiana back to a “modified” phase 2, with Edwards saying that “this is the first week in many, many weeks where Louisiana actually has more new cases than the national average.” The order will be in place for at least 28 days, but Edwards said that “no one should believe we are going to relax restrictions at that time.” Rather, he said, “ we hope we won’t have to put additional restrictions in place.”
As of right now, only a handful of parishes in the state have a positivity rate lower than five percent, including Orleans and St. Bernard parishes. Edwards said that when the weekly statewide numbers are released tomorrow, he expects more parishes to rise above the five percent positivity threshold. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has not yet addressed Edwards’s announcement, but the health department adjusted the city’s covid level threat last week to “active or imminent outbreak.” Bars in New Orleans were allowed to open for indoor service for the first time since July on November 11, a month after Gov. Edwards allowed some parts of the state to do so.
For parishes with a higher than five percent positivity rate, businesses licensed as bars must shut down indoor service, but can allow outdoor seating for up to 50 people. For parishes with a positivity rate below five percent, the 25 percent occupancy for indoor seating remains in place. In addition to restaurants, casinos must also reduce capacity to 50 percent, and events are limited to 25 percent capacity or up to 75 people indoors and up to 150 outdoors. The statewide mask mandate remains in place.
Louisiana is among a growing number of states and counties reintroducing dining restrictions across the U.S., which range from shutting down bars and restaurants for both indoor and outdoor service and introducing curfews. Edwards said the new restrictions will be in place through at least the end of the year.
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