As more and more states are loosening social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that the state will enter the second phase of reopening on Friday.
Tattoo shops, day spas and bowling alleys are just a few of the businesses that will be allowed to reopen under the new guidelines. Almost all businesses will be allowed to increase their occupancy limit to 50 percent — double the capacity allowed during Phase 1.
Bars can reopen as well, but only at 25 percent capacity and all patrons have to be seated.
Dr. Alex Billioux of the Louisiana Department of Health said that even with the loosened restrictions, older Louisianans and people with comorbid conditions or immune deficiencies should exercise caution.
“Individuals who are at high risk for poor outcomes … the recommendation that for you — you’re still in Phase Zero,” Billioux said. “You need to stay home if at all possible.”
New Orleans, however, will not enter Phase 2 Friday with the rest of the state.
It has only been three weeks since the state entered Phase 1, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell said city officials don’t have enough data to justify the further loosening of restrictions.
“As we have said throughout this pandemic: we are watching the data, not the date. We don’t yet have sufficient data to authorize opening up further at this point,” Cantrell said in a press release. “All of our decisions must be grounded in science and guided by the bedrock of public health: keeping our people safe. We look forward to the return of visitors — but for that to happen, we have to be able to ensure New Orleans is the safest city to come to. That means being deliberate, and waiting until we have two to three weeks of additional data and the full confidence of our public health officials that restrictions can be further eased in a safe way.”
Edwards has long held that local and city officials can enact stricter social distancing measures as they see fit.
<br> He also said he’s confident that the state has enough testing and contact tracing to keep the virus in check as Louisianans settle into a new normal.