BATON ROUGE — Restaurants, salons, gyms and other establishments, including some bars, will have fewer restrictions as Louisiana transitions to Phase 3 of its coronavirus reopening plan Friday night.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the new guidelines at a press conference Friday afternoon, stressing that residents should make no significant changes to the cautious routines that helped reduce the state’s COVID-19 levels.
The new guidelines include:
- Restaurants, salons, gyms, churches and spas will be able to increase capacity to 75%.
- Sporting and stadium events can open at 25% capacity.
- Casinos will remain at 50% capacity.
- Parishes that meet certain standards may permit bars to open (see details below).
- Alcohol consumption at all establishments and businesses must end at 10 p.m.
- Face-covering mandate will remain in effect statewide.
- Six-foot social distancing mandate will remain in effect statewide.
As for bars, the governor made a special allowance to open some of Louisiana’s bars as the White House’s Phase 3 guidelines do not recommend bars opening. Edwards said parishes with a percent-positive COVID-19 testing rate of below 5% can ask the state to open bars.
If a qualifying parish decides to open its bars, the bars will be limited to a 25% indoor capacity and a 50% outdoor capacity. Furthermore, only table-side service will be permitted. Patrons must remain seated indoors and order and consume all alcohol at a table. Only patrons who are 21 or older may be admitted, loud music is still banned, and bars must close at 11 p.m.
Currently, only five parishes meet the percent-positivity standard. They are Bienville, Jefferson Davis, St. John, Plaquemines, and Orleans.
IF PHASE 3 FAILS
Edwards said if residents begin ignoring precautions and COVID-19 case counts climb back up, the state could revert back to Phase 2: “If we have to, we will.”
“We’re not going to put ourselves on a course to lose the ability to deliver life saving care at our hospitals,” the governor said.
He said Phase 3 will only succeed if residents continue to wear face masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands and stay home whenever possible. He urged residents to choose takeout over dining-in and restrict indoor activities.
The governor hinted that Louisiana may not see a Phase 4 until the pandemic is over. Although, the Phase 3 order expires on Oct. 9, it will more than likely be extended for some time.
“There really isn’t a lot of room for moving forward past phase 3 until the pandemic is over,” Edwards said.