Nearly a month after lifting capacity limits and curfews for restaurants and bars, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new executive order Tuesday afternoon, ending the statewide mask mandate but saying he will defer to policies set by local governments and private businesses.
“We will be allowing local leaders and business owners to set their own policies regarding masks,” Gov. Edwards said Tuesday while outlining the state’s new rules. “This is not an end to mask wearing, or an end to the recommendation to wear masks. But I think it is a reflection of where we are at this stage in the pandemic.” The update comes on the heels of President Joe Biden and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing that vaccinated people could gather outdoors in small groups without masks.
It’s unlikely New Orleans will remove its mask mandate, as the city has generally maintained slightly stricter COVID-19 mitigation measures than the state.
The new order, effective Wednesday, April 28, also removes capacity restrictions for outdoor events. Indoor event venues can now choose between 75 percent capacity with social distancing or 100 percent capacity with masks. Gov. Edwards made no mention of plans for enforcement at events, but added, “I think, at this point in the pandemic, it’s now intuitive for people to wear masks to protect themselves in high-risk settings, and to protect others,” Edwards said. Masks will still be required on public transit or in state government buildings, K-12 schools, and in health care facilities, per a federal mandate.
Finally, Gov. Edwards announced an update to live music regulations that will require at least ten feet of space between the stage and audience.
“There’s no guarantee that our state or any other state or as a country that we don’t go backwards. That’s especially true if we don’t get our vaccination numbers up,” Edwards said Tuesday. According to numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health, approximately 25 percent of the state has had at least one vaccination shot.