One day after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced an end to the statewide indoor mask mandate, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell says the city’s mask mandate will also be suspended, effective Friday, October 29, just ahead of Halloween weekend.
Due to significant improvement in COVID-19 metrics caused by strong vaccination rates and the vaccine/test mandate, the City of New Orleans will suspend the city-wide mask mandate for most public places.— The City Of New Orleans (@CityOfNOLA) October 27, 2021
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While city officials said Tuesday there would be “no immediate changes” as a result of the governor’s executive order, in just two days the city will no longer require face coverings in most public indoor settings including restaurants, bars, and music venues — private businesses can still set stricter policies, however, as has always been the case. Per federal guidelines, masks are still required in K-12 schools, healthcare facilities, and on public transportation.
The city is also making a slight adjustment to its policy requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for indoor dining and drinking: a negative antigen test will now be accepted for entry into businesses, as opposed to the negative PCR test required when the vaccine mandate was first issued in August. New Orleans was just the third U.S. city to issue a vaccination mandate, after New York and San Francisco, although the city’s policy allowed for a negative COVID test in the previous 72 hours as an alternative where those did not.
New Orleans reinstated its mask mandate on July 30, 2021, roughly two months after lifting all previously remaining COVID restrictions. A few days later Edwards reissued a statewide mask mandate for Louisiana, and two weeks later Cantrell announced the city’s vaccination policy, which remains in effect in Orleans Parish.
As of Tuesday, October 26, New Orleans’s COVID positivity rate stood at 1.1 percent, according to city officials, no doubt helping prompt the easing of restrictions. More than 60 percent of New Orleans’s population is fully vaccinated and more than 75 percent of those eligible for the shots have received them, officials said Wednesday.