Patrons inside bars and restaurants across Louisiana will be required to mask up for at least another four weeks, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday. The governor extended his statewide mask mandate, which he first reissued on August 4, until at least October 27, 2021.
I am extending Louisiana’s statewide indoor mask mandate for another four weeks as the state’s overall COVID-19 outlook improves following the state’s worst surge of the entire pandemic. The statewide mask mandate includes K-12 schools and college campuses. #lagov pic.twitter.com/fRWFFUY8wS— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) September 28, 2021
The order requires masks indoors for everyone age 5 or older, vaccinated or not. For restaurants and bars, this means patrons must keep their masks on when entering restaurants, when not seated, or when picking up food. They can be removed when diners are consuming food or drink and for identification purposes.
Gov. Edwards has re-upped his executive order monthly since August, as he is only able to enact public health emergency rules for a month at a time. He first issued a statewide mask mandate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020, dropping it ten months later in April 2021 and deferring to local governments to set their own rules. A few weeks later in May 2021 New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell followed suit and dropped the city’s mask mandate, only to reissue it a few months later on July 30 amid a local and statewide COVID surge.
From there, with local COVID cases increasing by thousands week over week, the mayor went a step further: On August 12, Cantrell announced that proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test would be required at bars, restaurants, and venues in Orleans Parish beginning Monday, August 16. New Orleans was just the third city in the country to do so; the requirement remains in place today (in Orleans Parish only).
Edwards said Tuesday that while the state’s COVID numbers are improving from when the mask mandate was put into place in August, hospitalizations are still roughly “four times the pre-delta surge baseline.” Louisiana’s health department Tuesday reported 1,031 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, and 989 hospitalizations.
The health department also reported that 85 percent of COVID-19 cases reported last week were among not fully vaccinated residents; as of Tuesday, just 45 percent of Louisianans have been fully vaccinated.