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New Orleans Brings Back 24/7 Alcohol Sales

The city is ending the closing time for bars, social distancing rules, and live music restrictions, effective Friday, May 28

Home of the hand grenade
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The City of New Orleans announced it is lifting all COVID-19 restrictions for bars, restaurants, and music venues, effective Friday, May 28. That includes ending the 1 a.m. last call for bars and alcohol sales, ending six-foot spacing rules, table service requirements, and the ban on bar seating.

The news follows Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards lifting remaining restrictions in the state effective Wednesday, May 26, including distancing rules, regulations for live music, and capacity limits at indoor events and stadiums (read: Saints games). New Orleans’s new proclamation, released Wednesday evening, establishes some interesting guidelines for large gatherings: events can be held at 100 percent capacity if organizers require customers to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test, or if they require masks. Otherwise, the event is capped at 50 percent capacity indoors. If it’s an outdoor event, and it doesn’t require proof of vaccination, a negative test, or masks, it is capped at 75 percent occupancy. This part will help inform details for the many 2021 festivals with dates planned in the coming months.

Restaurants and bars no longer need to space tables six feet apart — a rule that was barely feasible, if at all, for many neighborhood spots — and are no longer limited in when they can serve alcohol. Live music is allowed with a special event permit or certificate of registration following the gathering size guidelines, with no further restrictions on instruments or singing, it appears.

In other big news for the city, parades and second lines are allowed again, both requiring the same permits as they did previously. While second lines have popped up around town in more recent months, their official return will certainly mark a happy milestone for New Orleans.

As of Wednesday, May 26, 46.5 percent of New Orleans’s total population (58.3 percent of its eligible population) has initiated their vaccination, with 41.6 percent of all residents fully vaccinated (52 percent of those eligible). New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has previously said that getting 70 to 75 percent of the population vaccinated is “the key to getting back to the life that we’re used to in our city.”

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