Mayor Cantrell Details Eased Restrictions On Businesses, Gatherings As City Prepares To Reopen

May 12, 2020
Originally published on May 13, 2020 12:05 pm

The City of New Orleans will slowly start reopening on Saturday. Mayor LaToya Cantrell detailed how the first phase of a four-phased reopening will work during a press conference Tuesday.

Guidelines from the federal government allow phased reopening for cities that have succeeded in limiting the spread of COVID-19, and city officials in New Orleans have said the number of cases is decreasing, so it’s time to get back to business.

Cantrell said that’s good news, but “there is no perfect plan.” The risk of COVID-19 will be a continued threat until a vaccine is developed. She encouraged people with underlying conditions to continue to stay at home.

“Our whole goal here is to keep people alive,” she said.

Churches, restaurants and gyms will be allowed to reopen starting at 6 a.m. Saturday, although capacity will be limited. Movie theatres, museums, zoos and aquariums will all be limited to 25 percent capacity. Gyms are also limited and can’t hold group classes. Churches are capped at 100 people. Restaurants must take reservations. Barbershops and beauty salons can operate only by appointment.

Businesses are required to register with the state fire marshal’s office.

Here's a detailed look at the new restrictions as presented in a release from the city:

Shopping malls and retail stores

  • Stores with exterior entrances limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.

Food service establishments

  • Restaurants with table service should utilize a reservation or appointment system.
  • Indoor seating is limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.

Beauty salons, barber shops, and nail salons

  • Service by reservation or appointment only.
  • Limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.

Houses of worship

  • Services are limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Childcare, early learning centers, k-12 school and extracurricular programs

  • Limited to 10 people per group, including adults.
  • Contact sports are not permitted.

Movie theaters

  • Limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Museums, zoos, aquariums

  • Limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.
  • Admission must be staggered using an appointment or reservation system.

Gyms and fitness centers

  • Limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.
  • Contact sports and group fitness classes are not allowed.

Office buildings and businesses

  • People who can work from home should continue to do so.
  • Limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.


  • Limited to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.
  • Storytime or other group events are not permitted.

Outdoor recreation spaces, sports complexes, parks and playgrounds

  • Parks and playgrounds can reopen, but residents must avoid close contact with others.


  • No spectators allowed.
  • Casinos and video poker not allowed.

Not allowed in phase one

  • Casinos and video poker (not allowed in Orleans Parish)
  • Spas, tattoo and massage parlors
  • Live entertainment, amusement, and event venues
  • Children’s museums
  • Bars without food permits
  • Private gatherings with more than a reasonable household size

City Hall will continue to be closed to the public, and many city employees will continue to work from home.

No public gatherings will be allowed, that includes second lines, parades and block parties. The New Orleans Police Department will continue to enforce limitations on gatherings. Citizens are still encouraged to wear masks, keep a six-foot distance from others, and wash hands and practice strict hygiene.

Cantrell said to visualize a faucet: “We’re about to turn the faucet on, but not high stream, we’re just going to let a little bit of this water and we’re going to respond, should we have to turn that faucet off.”

An extensive contact tracing system will also be put into place. The Louisiana State Department of Health will oversee the program, and an Orleans Parish office will be tasked with investigating outbreaks in the region.

Cantrell emphasized that this phase was indefinite, with no set date when restrictions will be further eased. It’s dependent on whether more outbreaks occur.

The guidelines differ slightly from those announced by Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday in that no video poker will be allowed. Those guidelines are posted at opensafely.la.gov.

Cantrell also held a live town hall on WBOK on Tuesday and received numerous questions from citizens concerned about going back to work.

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