Masks mandated, bars closed
Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced a mandatory mask requirement for Louisiana and ordered bars in the state closed to on-premises consumption, as the state experiences increasing spread of COVID-19.
The governor also limited indoor social gatherings like wedding receptions, class reunions and parties to 50 total people. With these additional restrictions, Louisiana remains in Phase Two of the Roadmap for a Resilient Louisiana.
The statewide mask mandate, which will allow for parishes without high COVID-19 incidence to opt out if they choose, and bar closures went into effect Monday, 12:01 a.m., per a revised Phase Two proclamation signed Saturday.
The order also limits the size of gatherings to 50. The new order is set to expire July 24 but could be extended.
“Cases in Louisiana continue to increase, including setting a record-high number of new cases reported in one day, Friday and Saturday. More than 2,000 new COVID infections reported each of these days and increased hospitalizations are signs that we continue to go in the wrong direction in our work to control COVID-19 in our state,” Edwards said.
“While I had hoped to avoid going backwards on restrictions, it is obvious that it is necessary to slow the spread of infection in our state, as COVID-19 has spread to every corner, at a level higher than we have previously seen. This is why I am now mandating face coverings statewide and also closing all bars in Louisiana to on-premises consumption, in addition to putting in limits on the size of indoor gatherings.”
The statewide mask mandate applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the most recent two-week period for which data is available could choose to opt out of the mandate.
Parish presidents do not have to opt out and may choose to keep a mask mandate in place. Currently, only three parishes in Louisiana do not exceed this standard, which will be updated every other week by the Louisiana Department of Health: Grant, Red River and West Feliciana.
The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older except for the following:
• Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
• Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
• Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
• Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
• Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
• Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate
Masks are strongly recommended for children ages 2 to 7.
All bars, including those with food permits from the Louisiana Department of Health, will be closed to on-premises consumption. They can operate for curbside takeout or delivery service only.
Since the start of the crisis, Louisiana has identified at least 36 outbreaks, impacting at least 405 people, involving bars, which were actually closed under the Governor’s original Stay at Home order. Public health officials believe going to bars is a higher public health risk than visiting other types of businesses because people are socializing and cannot wear masks when they drink.
In addition, young people under the age of 30 make up the largest percentage of new COVID cases in Louisiana.
The new order also limits the size of social gatherings to 50 people indoors. Outdoor social gatherings are also limited to 50 people if individuals cannot avoid being within 6 feet of one another.
This crowd size limitation shall not apply to those businesses deemed essential as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or any businesses and organizations operating at 50 percent capacity pursuant to Paragraphs (1) through (6) of Subsection (G) of Section 2 of 83 JBE 2020, including churches and other faith-based organizations.
The 50-person limit will apply to indoor gatherings, like receptions, weddings and others. The changes are based on the advice of public health officials.