In a new executive order effective Wednesday, March 31, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is lifting indoor capacity limits at bars and restaurants and removing restrictions on when they can serve alcohol, he announced Tuesday, adding that he would “default” to local guidances. A spokesman for the City of New Orleans said earlier Tuesday that the city’s current COVID-19 guidelines would stay the same for now, regardless of the governor’s new order. Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate remains in place.
In addition to allowing 100 percent capacity at bars and restaurants, the governor’s updated order removes the cap on outdoor events, but keeps a limit on large indoor events to 50 percent capacity and a maximum of 500 people. Bars must require customers to be seated at a table, which must be distanced according to CDC guidelines. The “curfew” on alcohol sales at bars and restaurants, previously 11 p.m., has also been lifted. Indoor and outdoor sporting events will be capped at 50 percent, up from 25 percent.
New Orleans’s communications director Beau Tidwell said Tuesday morning — before Gov. Edwards’s announcement — that while city officials did not yet know the details of the governor’s updated order, “you can anticipate that, as we have in every other stage of this, we are likely not going to be immediately in lock step with the state.” While Tidwell said the city would have updated guidelines to provide later this week, “the current guidelines for the city will remain in place until further notice.” New Orleans has maintained stricter guidelines than the state for the majority of the pandemic, and more recently has lagged behind the state’s easing of restrictions by about a week.
Louisiana has been in a modified phase 3 of reopening since early March, at which point indoor restaurant capacity increased to 75 percent and bars statewide were allowed 50 percent indoor capacity. New Orleans loosened restaurant and bar restrictions to be in line with the state’s guidelines in on March 12, but kept a lower cap on indoor and outdoor gatherings, sporting events, and festivals. In New Orleans, restaurants remain capped inside at 75 percent, and bars and breweries at 50 percent. Gatherings remain capped at 75 people inside and 150 outside, and event venues, fairs, and festivals are limited to 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 75 people inside and 150 people outside. Sports venues are currently limited to 15 percent capacity indoors and 25 percent outdoors.
Gov. Edwards’s new order is effective tomorrow, March 31, and expires on April 28, 2021.
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