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New Orleans Mayor Prohibits Restaurants and Bars from Selling Takeout Alcohol

Starting at 6 a.m. tomorrow, bars and restaurants can no longer sell alcoholic beverages to-go

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Bourbon Street on April 23, 2020
Photo by CLAIRE BANGSER/AFP via Getty Images

In a Friday afternoon press conference, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that bars and restaurants in New Orleans are prohibited from selling takeout alcoholic beverages, effective at 6 a.m. tomorrow, July 25.

The Mayor’s order effectively closes businesses licensed as bars in New Orleans. Earlier this month, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards closed bars in the state to on-premise consumption, but allowed them to remain open for curbside service. That will end in New Orleans — bars can no longer offer takeout food either, as the Mayor clarified after a question. “Our bar community will suffer as a result of this decision, unfortunately, but it’s one that has to be made to get our kids safely back in the classroom,” Cantrell said.

The new restriction also bans takeout alcohol from restaurants and drive-thru establishments, the sale of which has been a lifeline for many restaurants throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mayor referenced 20 bars in New Orleans that that have special permitting from the state — restaurant conditional permits — allowing them to operate as restaurants. Those 20 bars, which includes Cooter Brown’s, Bouligny Tavern, and Cure, can remain open.

The move seems to be prompted by gatherings on Bourbon Street, which the Mayor said are “triggered” by the sale of alcohol. Mayor Cantrell also referenced the “visual” of crowds in the French Quarter, saying that it incentivizes other gatherings throughout the city.

In June, the Mayor and City Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno said that if the city sustains a growth rate averaging 50 new cases of COVID-19 per day, restrictions could be reintroduced. Today, Dr. Avegno said that New Orleans’s daily average of new cases for the last three weeks has been well over 50. She also said that even though New Orleans is doing better than some surrounding parishes, their increase in cases is effecting “us and our hospital capacity.”

Mayor Cantrell did not name an end date for the ban on takeout alcohol sales, saying only that new restrictions would remain in place “until we move into a position of better health in the City of New Orleans.”

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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