While presenting this week’s COVID-19 data, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell Wednesday alerted the public that if the positivity rate is not lower next week, the city will have to shut down indoor service at bars and breweries, per state guidelines.
The warning comes a week after the Mayor’s surprise announcement that no new additional restrictions would be placed on bars in New Orleans, making it the last parish in Louisiana still allowed indoor service at bars. Last week’s rate of positive COVID-19 tests in New Orleans was 4.75 percent; city officials announced the positivity rate today is 5.3 percent. According to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’s guidelines, if the rate of positivity exceeds five percent for two weeks in a row, indoor service at bars must shut down — meaning it could happen on Wednesday, December 30, if the rate does not drop.
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. On November 25, Gov. Edwards’s “modified phase 2” order closed indoor service at bars in parishes with a greater than five percent positivity rate. At the time, New Orleans was one of only seven parishes permitted to keep bars open for indoor service; after last week’s data dump it was the last parish left standing. Yesterday, Gov. Edwards extended his modified phase 2 executive order an additional three weeks, through at least January 13, 2021.
“This is our most critical time, period,” Cantrell said. “I strongly urge our residents and visitors to do everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” On Wednesday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported an additional 65 new deaths due to the virus, the highest number of deaths in the state in a single day since July 29.
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