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Gov. Edwards: Louisiana moving to Phase One, stay-at-home order to be lifted on May 15

Louisiana

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at a news conference to discuss testing statistics and contact tracing pertaining to COVID-10, Friday, May 8, 2020, at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Governor John Bel Edwards has formally declared that Louisiana will enter into Phase One of its roadmap to a resilient Louisiana on Friday, May 15, according to the Office of the Governor.

In an issued statement, the governor states that the Stay at Home order will be lifted and more businesses will be allowed to open with strict social distancing, enhanced sanitation, and required masks for employees helping the public.

The order reportedly specifies that Louisiana residents should still stay at home as much as possible to avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. People who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should still stay at home unless they are traveling outside of the home for an essential activity, like obtaining food, medicine, or medical care.

“Thanks to the hard work of the people of Louisiana under the Stay at Home order, we have seen declining new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Gov. Edwards.

“This, coupled with increased testing and contact tracing capacity, is what is allowing us to move to Phase One on Friday. This is not mission accomplished or a victory against COVID-19, but it is a positive and hopeful move for Louisiana.”

Major changes in the new order include expanding the types of businesses that can now operate and the specific types of businesses that are limited to 25 percent of occupancy and require strict social distancing.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Health have issued guidance for churches and different types of businesses to help them enter Phase One in a way that ensures they operate safely and at the maximum level allowed. Business owners and faith leaders can find information here.

“While this a step forward for our state, I want to encourage the public and business owners to proceed cautiously and to take the necessary steps to protect themselves, including wearing a protective face covering like a cloth mask when they are in public, keeping social distance from people outside of their households and practicing good hygiene,” said Gov. Edwards.

With the exception of gaming establishments and shopping malls, no church leader or business owner is required to register or to get approval of their opening plans in advance. Registering for the Open Safely site is not required to reopen, but it is encouraged as it will allow businesses and churches to get the latest information quickly.

Phase One guidance will allow essential businesses as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), to remain open. Non-essential businesses (sometimes called “gray area” businesses) and churches may remain open at 25 percent of their occupancy. Further, churches and restaurants, cafes and coffee shops may continue to conduct outdoor service not limited by 25 percent of indoor capacity so long as strict social distancing is practiced. All business owners should read the order to understand which category their business falls into.

New types of businesses that may open beginning on May 15, with 25 percent occupancy limits, sanitation guidelines and spacing for physical distancing include:

  • Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops
  • Shopping malls
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Barber and beauty shops,  and nail salons
  • Movie theaters
  • Racetracks (not open to spectators)
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
  • Bars and breweries with LDH food permits

Casinos and video poker establishments may open on May 18, at 25 percent occupancy and with 50 percent of their gaming positions, spaced out to allow for social distancing and with enhanced sanitation. Gaming facilities must have a plan approved by the Gaming Control Board prior to reopening.

The following businesses remain closed: massage establishments and spas, tattoo parlors, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, fairs, bars and breweries without LDH food permits, pool halls, bowling alleys, contact sports, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, adult entertainment venues, and other similar businesses.

In a separate order, the Governor extended legal deadlines that had previously been delayed in March. The order also suspended other provisions necessary to respond to this disaster. These deadlines, including the moratorium on evictions, will continue until June 5.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:                                                

  • Business and faith leaders can visit or register at OpenSafely.la.gov to receive guidance and updates from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Health.
  • For a guide of businesses that can be open at any given time, visit gov.louisiana.gov/can-this-business-open.
  • Members of the public can continue to get information from the Governor’s office by visiting Coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.
  • Members of the public can continue to get information from the Department of Health by visiting ldh.la.gov/coronavirus.
  • People with general questions about COVID-19 in Louisiana can call 211.

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