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Just in Time for New Year’s, Indoor Bar Service Shuts Down in New Orleans

Per state guidelines, bars and breweries must cease indoor service but can remain open for outdoor seating and go-cups

A woman sits at the bar inside the doors of a corner bar in the French Quarter in 2018
New Orleans bars can no longer offer indoor service

Bars in New Orleans must cease indoor service today, December 30, after the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate surpassed Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’s threshold for the second week in a row. Bars and breweries are prohibited from serving customers indoors after 11 p.m. tonight, but can remain open for outdoor service and go-cups, or to-go drinks.

The city announced the new restrictions Wednesday, the day before New Year’s Eve, following the Louisiana Department of Health’s weekly release of COVID-19 data. After last week’s numbers put the city’s positivity rate at 5.3 percent, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned that per state guidelines, bars would no longer be able to offer indoor service if the rate again exceeded five percent this week. Today’s numbers show 5.5 percent of coronavirus tests in Orleans Parish came back positive, up 0.2 percent from the week before. Gov. Edwards’s statewide guidelines, put into place on November 25, dictate that if a parish’s COVID-19 positivity rate exceeds five percent for two weeks in a row, indoor service at bars must cease. Alcohol is also prohibited from being sold at indoor sporting events.

While bars and breweries won’t be able to serve patrons indoors after 11 p.m. on December 30, drive-thru alcohol sales, curbside operations, and outdoor service can continue. Bars and breweries can offer outdoor service for up to 50 people, all seated at socially-distanced tables, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Under the modified phase 2 guidelines, bar games and indoor live entertainment are prohibited. Outdoor live entertainment is allowed with a special event permit.

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 that time, New Orleans was one of a handful of parishes that didn’t need to shut down. Before today, it was the only parish in the state still able to allow indoor bar service.

Last week, Gov. Edwards extended the current state guidelines an additional three weeks, through at least January 13, 2021.

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