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New Orleans Bars Can Open for Indoor Service

New Orleans’s phase 3.3 allows bars and breweries to open indoor seating at 25 percent capacity

States Act To Close All Bars, Restaurants And Gyms To Limit Spread Of Coronavirus
Indoor service can resume at bars on Wednesday, November 11
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Bars in New Orleans will be able to serve customers indoors starting Wednesday, November 11, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced in a press conference today. New Orleans’s phase 3.3, initially planned for the end of October, marks the third step in a month-long, phased reopening for New Orleans bars that started with curbside service and then outdoor seating.

Phase 3.3 allows bars and breweries without food permits to open at 25 percent capacity indoors for a maximum of 50 people, and to increase their outdoor capacity to 100 percent, also for a maximum of 50 people. Customers must be seated for table service and stay seated at tables (placed six feet apart), and wear face coverings except while actively eating or drinking. Bar games and indoor live entertainment are prohibited, and last call remains at 11 p.m. Indoor events will be allowed to have up to 100 people in attendance; outdoor events can now have a maximum of 150 people.

The press conference also focused on live music, prompted by questions about a large, open-air worship concert held in the French Quarter on Saturday by a musician/preacher whose recent event in Nashville is now under investigation by officials. Images of the maskless crowd of hundreds quickly drew confusion and exasperation on behalf of local musicians, whose livelihoods have been largely restricted and sometimes shut down by city guidelines. Mayor Cantrell said in response she was “furious” and that the event was “not permitted, not authorized, not coordinated at all by the city of New Orleans” but that NOPD closed the street to traffic instead of shutting down the event for “public safety.”

City health director Dr. Jennifer Avegno addressed the difficulty some establishments have had in acquiring a special event permit, which are required for both outdoor and indoor live music (allowed indoors only at restaurants, venues, and concert halls). Avegno said the city has “heard the concerns” and has been working to “create new guidance that are clearer and make it easier to seek approval.” New guidance for the permitting process will be available on the city’s permits page on Wednesday.

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