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With reservations, New Orleans prepares to open a bit

Louisiana

An outdated seating sign is seen next to a sign in support of healthcare workers, at the patio of Santa Fe Restaurant which is open for takeout or delivery orders only in New Orleans on Monday, April 27, 2020. (Max Becherer/The Advocate via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dining in restaurants can resume in New Orleans beginning Saturday — with reservations.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Tuesday announced a loosening of restrictions on businesses adopted to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.

Restaurants, which have been limited to take-out orders in New Orleans, will be able to provide outside table service, and dine-in service at 25% capacity. But diners will have to make reservations, providing a name and phone number.

Walk-in diners will be allowed to enter but they will have to provide a name and number for an on-the-spot reservation. The information will have to be kept by the restaurant for 21 days to aid in contact tracing if needed.

“We know, keeping the data will matter,” Cantrell said. Zoos, museums and aquariums will also be limited to 25% capacity and will have to stagger admission by using a reservation system. Retailers can open if they have exterior entrances and maintain social distancing.

The reopening requirements announced by Cantrell resemble in many ways the plan going into effect Friday in the rest of the state, announced a day earlier by her fellow Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards.

But there are differences: For instance, church attendance will be capped at 25% of capacity — like the state — but with a maximum of 100 congregants.

Also, while the state will allow casinos to open beginning Monday, they will remain closed in New Orleans.

As with the rest of the state, barbers and hair salons can resume services and gyms can open with certain restrictions. But, New Orleans will require reservations for those services. Edwards has made no mention of such a requirement as he finalizes his plans for Friday’s reopenings. Also like the state, tattoo and massage parlors will remain closed, along with amusement parks and children’s museums.

Edwards and Cantrell both cautioned, at their respective news conferences, that people at high risk of serious illness should stay home as much as possible, and that others should wear masks and keep their distance from people who don’t live in their households.

The easing comes as the number of Louisiana cases climbs. It surpassed 32,000 Tuesday, and deaths rose by 39 to at least 2,281. But hospitalizations have been trending downward, and the proportion of cases to the increasing numbers of tests being completed has fallen.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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