Gov. Edwards announces Louisiana will move into Phase 1 of reopening on May 15

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — With his stay-at-home order set to expire at the end of the week, Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced Louisiana will be moving into the first phase of reopening businesses across the state on May 15.

“This is not mission accomplished. We still have our eyes all over Louisiana,” Edwards warned while making the announcement in his Monday briefing. “Everyone still has their part to play.”

RELATED: LDH update May 11: 31,815 COVID-19 cases confirmed; 2,242 deaths reported

Gov. Edwards will issue an updated proclamation, the Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana: Phase One, on Thursday, May 14 that removes the Stay at Home order for Louisianans, encouraging people who are at a higher risk of becoming ill from COVID-19 to continue to Stay at Home.

Edwards said the order will go into effect on Friday and is expected to remain in place through June 5.

As part of Phase 1, the following businesses will be allowed to open on May 15 with limitations (25% occupancy,
sanitation, spacing for physical distancing):*
• Restaurants, coffee shops and cafes
• Churches
• Gyms and fitness centers
• Barbers and salons
• Casinos and Video Poker
• Theaters
• Racetracks (not open to spectators)
• Museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
• In malls, only stores with exterior entrances
• Bars and breweries with LDH food permit – takeout,
delivery and dine-in seating only
*High-risk individuals are encouraged to stay home in Phase 1

Tattoo, massage, spas, amusement parks, museums, and bars without LDH food permits will remain closed.

The state will monitor the number of COVID-19 cases during the 21-day period as the stay-at-home order remains temporarily lifted. 

The state continues to ramp up testing with a 200,000 per-month goal, which Edwards said he expects will be met with federal assistance. He said Northeast Louisiana and rural areas will be areas of focus for testing in the coming days.

Social distancing guidelines and wearing masks in public places still remain strongly recommended by the CDC and state medical officials, as there are concerns over spikes in new cases.

Edwards said the data now shows that the Stay at Home order improved Louisiana’s overall situation when it comes to COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and meets the statewide threshold criteria from the White House related to declining COVID-like symptoms, new cases and hospitalizations.

Click here to see the data presented at the Governor’s May 11 media briefing.

“Because we meet the White House statewide threshold criteria, starting on Friday, additional businesses may open with reasonable limitations to ensure safety for their employees and their customers,” Gov. Edwards said. “Louisianans who are at high risk of dying from COVID-19, including the elderly, residents of long-term care facilities and those with poor control of certain illnesses, should continue to stay at home and only leave their homes only for essential reasons, like seeking medical care, going to an essential job or getting food.”

Source: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

“Because of the Stay at Home order, Louisianans were able to dramatically improve our trajectory, reduce the number of new cases, keep our health care system from being overrun and save lives,” said Edwards. “It is because of this hard work that I, in consultation with public health experts and business and industry leaders, feel confident that all across the state we can move forward with entering into Phase One.”

RELATED: Virus impact on Louisiana state finances pegged at $1B

“The decision was made after consultation with OPH epidemiologists, as well as other health officials and professionals across the state,” said a statement released La. State Rep. Ray Garofalo shortly before the governor’s briefing began. Garofalo shared a detailed list of what the order will mean for Louisiana businesses:

  • Churches will be able to conduct indoor service at 25% of their State Fire Marshal capacity, with continued allowance for additional outdoor seating with SFM guidance on social distancing. In line with this, indoor funerals and weddings may resume indoor at 25% capacity of the building and may continue outdoor services with no crowd size limitation as long as social distancing is practiced.
  • All non-CISA and non-closed businesses will be able to be open to the public at 25% of their State Fire Marshal capacity.
  • Restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes will be able to be open to the public for indoor table service at 25% of their State Fire Marshal capacity, with continued allowance for additional outdoor seating with SFM guidance on social distancing.
  • Bars that hold an LDH food service certificate will be able to do or take-out and delivery of food and alcohol and dine-in seating in line with State Fire Marshal guidance on social distancing for restaurants, with no more than 25% of their State Fire Marshal capacity. No on site consumption will be allowed if not seated at SFM approved seating.
  • Gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to be open to the public at 25% of their capacity. The State Fire Marshal and LDH will be issuing guidance on social distancing and sanitization.
  • Anchor stores of shopping malls with exterior doors accessible by the public will be allowed to be open to the public at 25% of their State Fire Marshal capacity. Interior mall stores can continue to offer their goods for sale to the public for curbside delivery only.
  • Movie theaters may be open to the public at 25% of their State Fire Marshal capacity, with new guidance from SFM and LDH on social distancing and sanitation.
  • Casinos and video poker may be open in line with guidance from Gaming Control Board and the Louisiana Racing Commission and at no more than 25% of their capacity and gaming positions. Racetracks may open for races without spectators only if approved by the Louisiana Racing Commission.
  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums may be open to the public at 25% of their capacity, with no organized tours and no tactile exhibits. Children’s museums remain closed.
  • Barbers, hair salons, and nail salons may be open to the public at 25% of their capacity with SFM guidance on social distancing.
  • Massage establishments, spas, tattoo parlors, and all other places of public amusement from 52 JBE 2020 remain closed.

Businesses are encouraged to find more detailed information and resources at opensafely.gov.

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