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Louisiana Ends Rules for Bars and Live Music

While there are no immediate changes in New Orleans, announcements by the city are expected this week

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards ended most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions in the state Wednesday, including social distancing rules for bars and regulations for live music. He’s also lifted capacity limits for large indoor events, stadiums, and sports venues, marking a full reopening of Louisiana since the statewide stay-at-home order in March 2020.

After the governor announced his new executive order, which went into effect Wednesday, May 26, New Orleans officials responded Tuesday saying that would be no immediate change to the city’s COVID restrictions, which includes requiring bars to close at 1 a.m. and limits on gathering sizes and indoor events. The city did tease, however, that further announcements would be made later this week.

The only statewide mandate that remains is a mask requirement for public transit, health care facilities, and prisons — Gov. Edwards lifted the mandate requiring masks in schools, while again noting that businesses, schools, and local officials can still require masks if they choose to do so. At the end of April, when the governor first lifted the statewide mask mandate, he also removed capacity restrictions for outdoor events, increased caps on indoor event venues, and required at least ten feet of space between the stage and audience for live music — all of those guidelines are no more.

Despite the end to restrictions, Edwards is continuing to extend the state’s public health emergency declaration to take advantage of federal cost-sharing opportunities.

“Cases are down, there are 1500 vaccine sites across the state, jabs are easy to come by, and the percent of positive COVID tests has been below 5 percent for the last four months,” Gov. Edwards said Tuesday while explaining the change. He said it would likely be the last press conference he holds to talk about COVID-19-related emergency orders.

New Orleans dropped the city’s mask mandate on May 14, and before that lifted capacity limits at restaurants, bars, and breweries on April 30. The 1 a.m. cutoff time for alcohol sales at bars currently remains in place, as do current gathering sizes and capacity limits at stadiums and sporting venues. The city is expected to officially respond to the governor’s orders by the end of the week.

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