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New Orleans Increases Capacity at Bars, Breweries, and Restaurants

And live music, with the exception of singing and windblown instruments, is again allowed at bars and music venues

Maison Bourbon sign.
Live music, with exceptions, returns to New Orleans
Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

New Orleans is relaxing indoor capacity limits at bars and restaurants, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Wednesday. Additionally, live music — with extensive exceptions — will once again be allowed inside the city’s bars and music venues.

Effective Friday, March 12, restaurants can increase their indoor capacity from 50 to 75 percent and bars and breweries can increase capacity inside from 25 to 50 percent. The move comes as local COVID-19 cases continue to decline and vaccine availability improves — New Orleans currently has one of the lowest percent positivity rates in the state at 1.5 percent, and Cantrell said Wednesday that 12 percent of the parish is fully vaccinated and 21 percent has received the first dose of the vaccine. Yesterday, Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded vaccine eligibility to anyone in the state 16 and over with certain health conditions, massively expanding availability.

The city’s new restrictions more closely resemble the state’s — last week Gov. John Bel Edwards moved the Louisiana into a modified phase 3 of reopening, while New Orleans remained in a modified phase 2. Per state guidelines, masks are required when not eating or drinking, and bars, restaurants, and breweries must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. New Orleans guidelines that remain more strict than the state’s are as follows:

  • Gatherings remain capped at 75 people inside, 150 outside
  • Sports venues are limited to 15 percent capacity indoors and 25 percent outdoors
  • Event venues, fairs, and festivals are limited to 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 75 people inside and 150 people outside

The types of live music permissible at bars and music venues in New Orleans, however, is in line with the rest of Louisiana. Most notably, singing and wind-blown instruments remain prohibited indoors. Karaoke is also still not allowed, and all venues must have either a Special Event Permit or a Certificate of Registration to allow live entertainment.

City officials also addressed block parties and parades for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, reiterating that both remain prohibited under state guidelines. Last year’s St. Patrick’s Day marked the first time police were called to break up crowds gathering outside bars in violation of COVID-19 guidelines.

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

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