BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced Thursday, May 14 he has officially signed the declaration allowing the state will enter Phase 1 of reopening effective Friday, May 15.
The new phase will loosen restrictions the governor put in place in March as a way to reduce the spread of the COVID-19.
The governor’s order says that residents should still stay at home as much as possible to avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. People who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should still stay at home unless they are traveling outside of the home for essential activities, like buying food, medicine, or getting medical care.
The governor said the following types of locations will be allowed to reopen Friday, with a limit in place of 25% of their normal capacity:
- Restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes (including indoor table-side service)
- Movie theaters
- Zoos and aquariums (no touching exhibits)
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Hair and nail salons
- Retail stores with exterior exits (such as anchor stores at malls)
- Bars and breweries with a Louisiana Dept. of Health food permit
Reopening Monday, May 18:
- Casinos, video poker parlors, and racetracks (no spectators)
The following types of businesses will remain closed:
- Massage establishments and spas
- Tattoo parlors
- Carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, and fairs
- Bars and breweries without LDH food permits
- Pool halls
- Contact sports
- Children’s play centers, playgrounds
- Theme parks
- Adult entertainment venues, and other similar businesses
“Because of the Stay-at-Home order, Louisianans were able to dramatically improve our trajectory, reduce the number of new cases, keep our healthcare system from being overrun, and save lives. It is because of this hard work that I, in consultation with public health experts and business and industry leaders, feel confident that all across the state we can move forward with entering into Phase One. Because we meet the White House statewide threshold criteria, starting on Friday, additional businesses may open with reasonable limitations to ensure safety for their employees and their customers,” Gov. Edwards said. “Louisianans who are at high risk of dying from COVID-19, including the elderly, residents of long-term care facilities, and those with poor control of certain illnesses, should continue to stay at home and only leave their homes only for essential reasons, like seeking medical care, going to an essential job, or getting food.”
Under the new restrictions, a restaurant that normally has a capacity of 100 people would be limited to 25 customers, for example.
“Right now, the data shows improvement, and we also now have a much more robust testing and contract tracing program underway, which will allow us to better identify cases and isolate those who may have been infected. However, we are not out of the woods and if we see a dramatic spike in cases, we may have to increase restrictions. Our lives will not go back to normal for some time,” Gov. Edwards said. “I know this has been a trying time for our people, our churches, and our businesses, and I am truly grateful for the continued adherence to mitigation measures designed to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. Louisianans are a remarkably strong and resilient people, and by working together, we will continue to protect each other and our state.”
Edwards first issued a restrictive stay-at-home order March 23.
Many expected the governor to loosen the restrictions on May 1, however, on April 27, he announced most of the restrictions would remain in place because the state’s COVID-19 recovery had not progressed enough. He did, however, allow most restaurants to open May 1 with limited outdoor seating. Business owners are encouraged to visit this website for more information.
As of Monday, May 11, the state reported 31,815 cases of COVID-19. Seventy-one percent of those patients are presumed to have recovered since being diagnosed, the state says. The latest figures (as of May 11) showed 2,242 reported COVID-19 deaths in the state.
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