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Defying Expectations, New Orleans Bars Can Stay Open While the Rest of Louisiana Closes

Orleans Parish is now the only parish in Louisiana allowed indoor service at bars

Indoor service is still permitted at bars in New Orleans
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Bars can remain open for indoor service in New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, defying expectations that additional restrictions would be introduced this week based on recent coronavirus data. That makes Orleans Parish the only parish in Louisiana that can keep bars open for indoor service, as based on state guidelines.

Weekly data released Wednesday shows New Orleans’s positivity rate at 4.75 percent, down from 5.2 percent the week before. Under the state guidelines announced by Gov. John Bel Edwards last month, parishes with positivity rates above five percent for two weeks in a row must end indoor bar service. Because New Orleans’s rate crossed the threshold last week, the expectation was for the mayor to shut down bars, especially in light of the city enacting stricter measures than the state at previous points during the pandemic.

At the time of Gov. Edwards’s “modified phase 2” order, which went into place November 25, New Orleans was one of only seven parishes permitted to keep bars open for indoor service. Now, with neighboring St. Bernard Parish firmly above the state’s positivity rate threshold, it is the only parish in Louisiana that still qualifies. Bars and breweries in New Orleans were first allowed to reopen for indoor service at 25 percent capacity in mid-November when the city entered phase 3.3, about a month after bars could reopen in Louisiana.

Edwards previously said the state’s guidelines will be in place through at least the end of the year.

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