BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced Monday, April 27 he will be extending the stay-at-home order until May 15.
Click here to read the official order.
Gov. Edwards said Louisiana does not currently meet criteria from the White House for entering Phase One of reopening.
“My decision to extend the Stay at Home order was based on sound science and data and the recommendations of multiple public health experts and doctors as the best shot Louisiana has to protect the health of all people,” Gov. Edwards said. “We simply don’t meet the qualifications to move to Phase 1 yet, but all Louisianans should be hopeful that we will soon. Brighter days are ahead for Louisiana, and I am proud not only of our healthcare heroes and front-line essential workers, but also of our people who have shown extreme strength during this tough time and have largely abided by the Stay at Home order. We will get through this together and resume the celebrations we have had to put on hold when we are able to come together again safely."
“Let me be clear, many businesses in Louisiana are allowed to open and operate as long as their employees wear face masks or coverings, limit the number of people on premises as outlined in the order, and enforce social distancing. Businesses owners will need to review the order to be sure that they understand if their business may be open and how it may operate, if it is. In the coming days we will be providing additional information and tools to help business owners understand the guidance for Phase 1 so that they can protect the health and safety of their customers and their employees.”
Click here for important information for businesses.
The new stay-at-home order is nearly identical to previous orders. Businesses that were previously ordered to close will remain closed, including salons, barber shops, bars, and casinos. Businesses deemed essential will remain open. Non-essential retail businesses and some other businesses can be open with no more than ten people inside at once, including employees and customers.
Three noteworthy changes in the new order include:
- Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery
- Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service
- All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask or face covering
“Parishes are free and mayors to be more restrictive than whatever restrictions I put in place by virtue of executive order or proclamation. They are not allowed to be less restrictive,” said Gov. Edwards.
The governor is also allowing churches to hold outdoor services, but people must wear masks, social distance, and no one above 65-years-old or with a compromised immune system should attend.
“We do believe that church services can be conducted safely outdoors, just as individuals can safely eat on the premises of a restaurant outdoors. Now for those churches that want to put up a tent in order to create the space that’s fine, but not if you put the flaps down on the wall of a tent,” said the governor.
Additionally, both the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks or face coverings when in public.
“Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Gov. Edwards said. “Wearing a mask is being a good neighbor and in Louisiana, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. Your mask protects me and other people and my mask protects you.”
The stay-at-home order has been in effect since March 23.
“Thanks to the commitment of the people of Louisiana, our state has made progress in flattening the curve and reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, we still have a little work to do before we meet the criteria to safely move to the next phase of reopening, so I will extend the state’s Stay at Home order until May 15, with a few minor changes,” Gov. Edwards said. “While this is not the announcement I want to make, I am hopeful, and all of Louisiana should be hopeful, that we will enter into the next phase of reopening soon, in mid-May. I am anxious to get all areas of our economy reopened, but if we accelerate too quickly, we may have to slam on the brakes. That will be bad for public health and for businesses, bad for our people and bad for our state.”
Gov. Edwards says his decision is based on regional data that shows that while overall new cases and hospitalizations have decreased, but not in certain regions. In the Baton Rouge and Monroe areas, both new cases and new hospitalizations have increased, according to LDH.
Edwards says health officials are also seeing increases of new cases in Acadiana and a plateau for hospitalizations in southwest Louisiana, and a plateau of new cases in the Northshore area.
Click here to view the governor’s presentation on regional data trends.
Edwards says he hopes Louisiana will meet the White House criteria and move to Phase 1 on May 15, if symptoms, new case counts, and hospitalizations decrease and the state continues to increase testing and contact tracing capacity.
Phase One would lift the stay-at-home order and ease restrictions on some public spaces like churches and restaurants. It would also open other businesses that have been closed such as barbershops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks. Phase One occupancy for those businesses will be limited to 25%.
Meanwhile, there have been protests outside the Governor’s Mansion demanding him to fully reopen our economy.
“I don’t believe there’s anybody out there who wants to reopen the economy more than I do, but at the same time, I’m the only person charged with the constitution, and has the responsibility under the law to be the decision maker and weigh public health on the one hand and the economy on the other, and strike the right balance,” said Gov. Edwards.
Edwards encourages business owners and faith leaders to prepare and plan for the next phase of reopening by understanding their building’s maximum occupancy limits, which may require contacting local government or the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal. They should also plan on ensuring their employees have masks.
The governor says he will make his next announcement whether Louisiana will move to Phase One on or by May 11. Residents can get information from the Governor’s Office on coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.
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