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Louisiana will move to Phase 3 beginning March 3; mask mandate to remain in effect

Updated: Mar. 2, 2021 at 4:24 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana will move into a modified version of Phase 3 of reopening the economy beginning Wednesday, March 3, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced during a news conference Tuesday, March 2.

“We’re just, we’re in a better place,” said Edwards.

The governor says after about 6 weeks of improving our state-wide daily COVID-19 case count, and a big decline of people in the hospital fighting the virus, now is the time to ease restrictions a bit.

“Again, we’re optimistic that we can be successful. In fact, I know that we can be successful with the rules that are going to be in place, with the proclamation that will be effective tomorrow,” said Edwards.

Louisiana’s percent positivity for COVID-19 tests is 5%.

Gov. Edwards says his new executive order for Phase 3 will remain in effect until March 31.

Under Phase 3, businesses such as restaurants, salons and malls can operate at 75% capacity. Gyms can operate at 50% capacity. Bars in all parishes of the state can operate at 25% capacity and at 50% capacity in parishes with coronavirus positivity rates below 5%.

Religious services do not have capacity limits by attendees must follow the statewide mask mandate.

Gatherings at indoor event halls are limited to 50% capacity or up to 250 people.

“I’m very hopeful, that the restrictions that do remain in place and the mitigation measures that remain in place will be practiced. And we will not see and increase in transmission and so forth in these venues,” said Edwards.

The last time Governor Edwards decided to put Louisiana in Phase 3 was back in September of 2020.

As these new guidelines are the least amount of restrictions we’ve seen across the state since the pandemic began a year ago.

“What this new Phase 3 looks like, is similar to our last Phase 3 but a little better,” said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning.

One thing a lot of people have been missing is live music indoors. Well now that is allowed according to the Governor’s new mandate.

“Band performers can see if their band will fit in to a building based on the air conditioning system, based on the spacing, and based on some other measures that can stop the spread of Covid-19. But, we’ve found that most large modern day buildings have the right type of air conditioner systems and the right type of floor space, that they can make it work,” said Browning.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office released these guidelines for people to check and make sure their businesses/bands are in compliance.

But at pretty much all places, you’ll have to mask up and be seated, unless of course you’re eating or drinking.

“So this hopefully is an opportunity for us to move forward, for us to do it safely. But if we have to go backwards, we will. It’s not something that I want to do as you all know. But, I feel like we’ve made enough progress,” said Edwards.

The Governor’s Office also says when it comes to visiting your loved ones in nursing homes, visitations are allowed. But you have to check with the facility, as to what their specific guidelines are when it comes to visitation.

“Since we stepped back into more increased restrictions more than three months ago, the goal has been to slow the spread and avoid overwhelming our hospitals, which we have done thanks to the hard work of many Louisianans,” said Gov. Edwards. “These Phase 3 restrictions will keep some common sense and lifesaving limitations in place while we work to continue keeping the case counts down and administering the vaccines to as many Louisianans as quickly as we can.”

“As we are cautiously reducing some of the restrictions related to slowing the spread of COVID, it is even more critical that people take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and those around them. This includes wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, washing their hands frequently, staying home when they are sick or have been exposed, and getting the vaccine when it is their turn. The last several weeks have been full of hopeful milestones, including a third COVID vaccine and the state administering more than one million doses. But we also know that COVID variants, which we know are more contagious, are active in Louisiana. In nearly a year of battling this pandemic, we have lost almost 10,000 of our fellow Louisianans, and many people have suffered greatly. It is incumbent upon all of us to do our part to help put this pandemic behind us and save lives,” Gov. Edwards added.

Phase 3 guidelines
Phase 3 guidelines(LDH)

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Gov. Edwards also received his second dose of the Pfizer-manufactured coronavirus vaccine late Tuesday. He received his first dose of the vaccine on Feb. 9.

Click here to see the Fire Marshalls guide for reopening safely.

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