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New Orleans Has ‘No Immediate Plans’ to Lift Current Bar and Restaurant Limits

Indoor capacity limits at restaurants and bars, 75 percent and 50 percent, respectively, will remain in place for now

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At a weekly press briefing Tuesday, New Orleans spokesman Beau Tidwell answered questions about the city’s reopening, saying there is “no immediate plan” to further ease current COVID-19 restrictions for bars and restaurants to be in line with the rest of Louisiana.

New Orleans has been in “modified phase 3” since Friday, March 12, at which point restaurants could increase indoor capacity from 50 to 75 percent and bars and breweries could serve at half capacity inside, up from 25 percent. Those rules remain in place for now, along with current gathering limits and the 1 a.m. curfew for alcohol sales, which was extended earlier this month from the previous statewide time of 11 p.m.

When asked about lifting capacity limits to be in line with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’s executive order put in place at the end of March, Tidwell said Tuesday, “To get to where we’re going to have additional easements of guidelines, we need to see more progress on the vaccines. There is no immediate plan for that.”

Tidwell said that nearly 42 percent of New Orleans residents have begun the vaccination process, with close to 32 percent having had both shots.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has previously said she won’t lift indoor dining restrictions until the city reaches a higher rate of vaccination, and urged the hospitality industry to better track how many employees are getting vaccinated. “The key to getting back to to the life that we’re used to in our city is to make sure that the 89,000 people in our community that make up our hospitality industry get vaccinated,” Cantrell said.

Since then, a number of bars and restaurants have joined the citywide vaccination effort, partnering with local health providers to host free vaccine events at their establishments, with the added incentive of a free drink or shot to be redeemed after receiving the vaccine shot. So far, Dragon’s Den, the Howlin’ Wolf, and Kermit Ruffins’s Mother-in-Law Lounge have all held vaccinations events in the last week.

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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