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Louisiana Governor Announces State Guidelines for Reopening Restaurants and Bars This Weekend

Guidelines for New Orleans, “likely to be more restrictive,” will be announced tomorrow

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced state guidelines for reopening restaurants on Monday
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In a press conference Monday afternoon, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that restaurants and bars can resume dine-in service at a reduced capacity Friday, May 15 as part of the first phase of reopening the state. Dine-in restaurants, bars that offer food, and casinos will be able to operate with a maximum occupancy of 25 percent; bars without a food permit will remain closed.

The new state order, which also allows salons, barber shops, and gyms to open at 25 percent capacity, will be in place for at least 21 days. The 25 percent figure is designed to allow a required six feet of space between people and 10 feet between tables, Edwards said, and the number includes both employees and customers. During Edwards’s press conference, state Secretary of Health Alex Billioux touched on contact tracing briefly, saying “we’re going to do our part at the state level through contact tracing and testing,” and that “people will be encouraged to quarantine for 14 days if they are identified as coming into close contact with an infected person.”

The situation may be different for the City of New Orleans under its first phase of reopening. Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a press conference two hours prior to Edwards’s in which she said that the phased reopening of New Orleans would begin May 16 and that city guidance is coming tomorrow. “State guidance is the floor, not the ceiling,” Cantrell said. “We as a city have the right to chart our own course.” She also warned that “city guidelines will likely be more restrictive, in some ways.”

Last month, Cantrell said the governor’s revised stay-at-home order allowing restaurants to reopen outdoor seating for customers getting takeout did not change the city’s directive to keep restaurant dining rooms and seating closed.

During Cantrell’s press conference, city health director Jennifer Avegno also appeared to walk back last week’s news that New Orleans businesses, including restaurants and grocery stores, would need to be prepared to track customer data when the city’s stay-at-home order was lifted. The news left many unanswered questions around the specifics of what would be required and enforcement. Avegno instead said today that the burden would fall largely to the infected person and health care professionals, and that the city was now “waiting for the state guidance,” to dictate its actions.

Check back with Eater for updates on the mayor’s reopening plan and what it means for New Orleans restaurants, expected tomorrow.

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the city’s restaurant industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at