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New Orleans Won’t Loosen Bar and Restaurant Restrictions With the Rest of Louisiana

New Orleans will remain at 25 percent indoor capacity for bars and 50 percent for restaurants, city officials confirmed

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New Orleans will not increase indoor bar capacity
Photo by CLAIRE BANGSER/AFP via Getty Images

A spokesperson for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell confirmed Tuesday that the city is not easing its current COVID-19 restrictions, hours after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’s announcement increasing the maximum number of customers allowed inside restaurants and bars in the rest of the state.

The city said in a statement: “Last week the New Orleans Health Department eased restrictions on gathering sizes and sporting events as a result of a sustained decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Orleans Parish. It is important to monitor the effect those changes may have on transmission. Additionally, the CDC has recently recommended against significantly rolling back restrictions to curb the spread in light of the more contagious variants. For these reasons, the current guidelines in Orleans Parish will remain in place.”

In a press conference Tuesday, Edwards said that starting Wednesday, March 3, the state will enter a modified phase 3, increasing maximum indoor dining at restaurants to 75 percent capacity and allowing bars across the state to open regardless of the local COVID-19 positivity rate. In parishes where the rate of positive coronavirus test results is higher than five percent, bars can open for indoor service at 25 percent capacity, and in parishes with a lower than five percent virus positivity rate, bars can operate at 50 percent inside.

Although the positivity rate in Orleans Parish is less than the five percent threshold, bars in New Orleans will not be allowed to increase indoor capacity. The city’s statement did not address specifics of the governor’s new order like indoor live music, but indoor live entertainment remains prohibited at bars and breweries under New Orleans’s current phase 2 guidelines.

Last week, New Orleans increased the limit for gatherings and table capacity — restaurants, bars, and breweries can seat up to 15 people at a table, up from 10. The limit on gathering sizes for parties and events also increased, from 10 people indoors and 25 people outside to 75 people indoors and 150 outside. Bars in New Orleans were allowed to resume indoor service at 25 percent capacity on February 19 after being shut down for the lead up to and on Mardi Gras. Restaurants can currently 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.

New Orleans officials have previously said the modified phase 2 guidelines will be in place through at least March 12.

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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