Louisiana advancing to Phase 3 of Coronavirus recovery

Governor John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that Louisiana will move into Phase 3 of recovery...
Governor John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that Louisiana will move into Phase 3 of recovery Friday.
Updated: Sep. 10, 2020 at 10:35 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana will move to Phase 3 starting Friday, Sept. 11.

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The governor would not specify which restrictions he’ll loosen under the new phase, instead saving details for a news conference scheduled for Friday afternoon.

“This was probably the hardest decision that I’ve made thus far,” Edwards said during a news conference. “Not based on the data itself, but based on all the activities that’ve been going on in the state of Louisiana recently. Where we are two to three weeks from now isn’t reflected in the data upon which I made my decision.”

Gov. Edwards did reveal that the mask mandate will remain in place during Phase Three. The mandate prompted a steady decline in the percentage of positive tests, eventually leading to a drop in hospitalizations.

“If we hadn’t just started K-12 schools, opened our higher-ed campuses, had labor day, and had a hurricane, this would’ve been the easiest decision, probably,” Edwards said.

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Louisiana has been in Phase Two since June 5 and Edwards closed bars for on-premises consumption and mandated masks statewide July 13. Edwards has indicated his statewide mask mandate is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, regardless of the phase of reopening the state is in.

He will have to decide whether bars should re-open for on-premises consumption under his Phase Three plan. WAFB’s Matt Houston reports the president’s Coronavirus Task Force has continuously encouraged Edwards to keep bars closed as part of their specific suggestions for Louisiana.

The White House’s recommendations for Phase Three of reopening the economy allow expanded seating at restaurants and expanded visitation at nursing homes. Almost everyone would be encouraged to return to work.

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