Tuesday, Nov. 24, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the aggressive third surge of COVID-19 across all regions of Louisiana has made it necessary to impose tighter mitigation measures and step back to Phase 2 in order to protect public health.
The Governor’s updated Phase 2 proclamation, which is slightly modified from the summer, took effect on Wednesday, Nov. 25. It calls for reducing occupancy at some businesses, decreasing gathering sizes, limiting indoor consumption at many bars and urges everyone in Louisiana to avoid gatherings with people outside of their everyday households.
Cases are increasing, hospitalizations have climbed back up to more than 1,000, the highest level since August, and to date, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 6,300 Louisianans. According to the latest report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Louisiana had 474 new cases per 100,000 people last week, which is higher than the national average for states, which is 356 per 100,000 people.
Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since mid-July, will continue. In addition, Gov. Edwards encourages any business that can allow its employees to work remotely to do so. He has directed all state agencies to do the same.
“There is not a single region of our state that is not seeing increases in new cases, hospitalizations and growing positivity of COVID tests, and I am incredibly concerned by Louisiana’s trajectory and our ability to continue to deliver health care to our people if our hospitals are overrun with sick patients,” Gov. Edwards said. “The data clearly tells us that we have lost all of the gains we had made and that our current mitigation efforts must be increased in order to adequately slow the spread. Now is the time to make changes, and stepping back to guidelines that closely resemble our Phase 2 restrictions is a tough but necessary step to take in order to protect the public.
“It is absolutely vital that Louisianans take this third surge of COVID seriously. While there is hopeful news about the development of an effective vaccine, the reality is that we are several months away from being able to widely vaccinate the general population in our state. This virus is with us and we must continue all of the mitigation measures including wearing a mask and social distancing in order to stay safe. All of us working together can slow the spread of COVID and flatten the curve – indeed, we already have twice. We now have more than 1,000 patients in the hospital with COVID, wiping out months of progress and leaving our hospitals in a perilous place.”
Gov. Edwards’ updated order went into effect on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and will run for four weeks. The Governor intends to keep these restrictions in place at least through the end of the year.
Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate remains in place. Major changes to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions include the below:
- All Louisianans are encouraged to avoid gatherings of individuals not part of their households.
- All businesses, private and public sectors, are encouraged to use remote work where they can.
- All restaurants are limited to 50% of their indoor capacity. Restaurants should move as much dining outdoors as they can. Social distancing is required.
- For bars in parishes above 5% positivity, bars are closed to indoor sales and consumption but open for outdoor consumption at tables only and at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people. Social distancing is required. Take-out and delivery will still be available.
- Retail businesses at 50% capacity, except for essential businesses, as defined by federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
- Gyms may be open at 50% of their capacity.
- Places of worship will remain at a maximum of 75% of their capacity or the number of people who can physically distance with at least six feet between each immediate household. The State Fire Marshal will put out additional COVID mitigation measures to make services safer.
- Barber and beauty shops, and nail salons may open at 50% of their capacity.
- Movie theaters may open at 50% of their capacity.
- Indoor gatherings at event/receptions centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 75 individuals.
- Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150 individuals when strict physical distancing is not possible.
- All sporting events will be capped at 25% capacity.
Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate is still in place. For complete guidance on the new Phase 2, visit the Open Safely portal at opensafely.la.gov.