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Mask mandate lifted in New Orleans

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 11:25 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2022 at 2:10 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Following one of the most electric Mardi Gras celebrations in recent history, and the first one back after 2021′s week-long party was shuttered by COVID-19, New Orleans officials eased coronavirus restrictions.

The city’s health director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, made the announcement Wednesday.

The indoor mask mandate will be lifted beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday. Avegno said officials will consider lifting the vaccine mandate later this month.

More than 100 plaintiffs opposed to the mandates sued Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the New Orleans Health Department, and Avegno, accusing them of violating their constitutional rights with restrictions the officials say have curbed the spread of coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it spawns. A court hearing is scheduled to take place Thursday morning but could be rendered moot under the new guidelines.

The plaintiffs said in a statement:

“Without help from any city leaders or the Louisiana legislature, this group of Louisiana parents came together to make real change for New Orleans families.  We are happy to see the mandates fall in New Orleans, far too late.  We saw our local elected officials refuse to follow their own mandates and suffer no penalties, unlike the ordinary citizens who were denied access to businesses and unlike our local businesses who were fined for failure to comply.  We will not forget the hypocrisy of our so-called leaders and what they have put our families through for the past two years.  We celebrate this victory for our strong mama and papa bears and proceed more determined than ever to ensure that this will never happen again.”

Cantrell was ridiculed for appearing maskless at her annual Mardi Gras ball about two weeks ago. She reinstated mask mandates in early January and has said since then city officials would consider lifting the restrictions after Mardi Gras.

The state’s health department said earlier this month it does not expect the hundreds of thousands of tourists descending on the city for Mardi Gras to cause a spike COVID-19 cases.

“We’re pretty much on the downhill slide here in Louisiana,” Dr. Dan Godbee, medical director in East Baton Rouge Parish, said.

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