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New Orleans Bars Can Reopen for Indoor Service

As of Friday, February 19, New Orleans bars can resume indoor service at 25 percent capacity

A woman sits at the bar inside the doors of a corner bar in the French Quarter in 2018
Indoor bar service in New Orleans can resume Friday, February 19
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Beginning Friday, February 19, bars and breweries in New Orleans are permitted to resume service indoors at 25 percent capacity, following a five-day shutdown for the final days of Mardi Gras. The “modified phase 2” guidelines, starting 6 a.m. tomorrow, will be in place for a minimum of three weeks, the city said Wednesday.

Under state guidelines established by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in late November, only parishes with a lower than five percent COVID-19 positivity rate can allow bars to serve indoors, which kept most of the state’s bars closed for at least a month or two. In late January, New Orleans’s positivity rate dropped below the state’s threshold, but chose to keep bars limited to outdoor and curbside service only. The city went a step further on February 5, ordering bars closed citywide and access to the French Quarter restricted for the days leading up to and on Mardi Gras. Per those rules, bars were allowed to resume outdoor and curbside service yesterday, February 17.

Now, New Orleans officials are prepared to further ease restrictions and allow limited indoor service at bars, due to a decrease in “case counts, positivity rate, and transmission rate,” according to a statement from the city. Gathering size limits have not changed, however — indoor gatherings remain restricted to ten people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Restaurants can operate at half capacity inside and full capacity outside, with masking and social distancing requirements, and along with bars, can stay open until 11 p.m., per state guidelines.

For the full set of city guidelines, in place through at least March 12, see here.

Eater is tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the city’s restaurant industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at nola@eater.com.

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