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New Orleans Restaurants Can Open Dining Rooms at 25 Percent Capacity on Saturday

Restaurants that reopen dine-in seating this weekend will need to to log customers for contact tracing

New Orleans restaurant dining rooms can reopen with 25 percent occupancy Saturday, May 16

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the first phase of reopening the city Tuesday afternoon, and it allows restaurant dining rooms to reopen at 25 percent capacity starting on May 16 — while also requiring them to log customer information for contact tracing purposes.

The mayor’s announcement comes one day after Gov. John Bel Edwards outlined guidelines for the rest of the state, which will begin its first phase of reopening on May 15, allowing restaurants and bars with food permits to reopen at 25 percent capacity. Cantrell’s plan for New Orleans restaurants is essentially identical, beginning a day later and with the additional requirement that restaurants require reservations or contact info for walk-up customers. Bars without food permits will remain closed.

Retail and grocery stores, initially expected to also collect information for contact tracing, are excluded from the requirement. Cantrell said that the policy, which would only apply to restaurants, was also following the state’s lead. (Gov. Edwards has previously said the state would not ask businesses to log customers.)

Starting Saturday, the city will also mandate that everyone wear a face covering in places of business. “It is not equitable for public health for employees to have to wear face coverings but not the public,” Cantrell said.

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

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