Restaurants received a small reprieve during a press conference in which Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards announced an extension of the statewide stay-at-home order: Starting May 1, they’ll be allowed to open outdoor seating areas to customers. Tableside service still won’t be permitted, but patrons picking up food can eat it at the restaurant’s outdoor tables. (The order does not apply to Orleans Parish, however.)
“Obviously my hope was that we would be taking bigger steps toward opening than what I’m going to be announcing today,” Edwards began. “Louisiana does not meet the criteria for moving to phase one under the guidelines.”
As part of the state’s revised stay-at-home order, which runs through May 15, businesses like salons, gyms, casinos, and bars will remain closed, but stores in malls can open for curbside delivery and restaurants can allow customers to eat takeout at outdoor tables. Social distancing guidelines will apply to any restaurant’s outdoor seating, and employees dealing with the public will need to wear masks or face coverings starting on Friday.
Recent evidence shows that COVID-19 is less contractable outside while maintaining six feet of distance from others, indicating a lower risk from socially distant outdoor dining than from restaurant dining rooms. Louisiana’s extended stay-at-home order and new outdoor dining allowances follow the controversial moves of other Southern states like Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee to lift such orders and reopen more businesses.
The state’s revised stay-at-home order running through May 15 puts its end date in line with New Orleans’s extended order. Edwards said that phase one of reopening the state will begin at that time, during which restaurants will be able to open dining rooms with modifications but bars will remain closed.
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