BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to announce Tuesday, Sept. 8 whether Louisiana will enter the third and final phase of its coronavirus recovery and when restrictions on businesses would loosen.
The state has been in phase two since early June, though Edwards closed bars for on-premises consumption and mandated masks in July. The state has seen a steady decline in the percentage of positive tests since then, leading to a drop in hospitalizations.
The current executive order that limits gatherings to 50 people and reduces restaurant capacity to 50 percent will expire on Sept. 11, though it will take at least another week to accurately determine how schools re-opening and Hurricane Laura evacuations contributed to the spread of the virus.
Edwards’ decision is further complicated by the Labor Day holiday. The last significant spike in cases began after Memorial Day, prompting the governor to issue several stern warnings last week about following social distancing guidelines during the holiday.
The White House’s recommendations for phase three primarily include expanded seating at restaurants and expanded visitation at nursing homes. Almost everyone would be encouraged to return to work.
In their state-specific suggestions, the president’s Coronavirus Task Force has continuously encouraged Edwards to keep bars closed. The governor has already indicated the mask mandate is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, regardless of phase.
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