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Louisiana governor announces further easing of COVID-19 restrictions, mask mandate remains in place

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — One day before the current emergency orders are set to expire, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced the rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 will be eased further, although the statewide mask mandate will remain in place.

Edwards made the announcement in his weekly briefing Tuesday afternoon, saying the decision to further ease restrictions was made in light of “mostly positive trends” in the state’s key indicators used to track the spread of COVID-19.

The previous order — which included rules for live music venues and inside capacity at bars — expires Wednesday. The new orders will allow limitations on bars and restaurants that serve alcohol to revert to local ordinances. That means the limitations on hours of operation in force since the emergency orders first took effect last year will be completely lifted.

Restaurants, bars, gyms, and retail settings will no longer have a strict occupancy limit. Businesses and venues that host larger venues will still be capped at 50 percent, but the maximum number of people will be doubled to 500. Outdoor, social distancing will be required, but there is no cap on capacity and sporting events will be limited to 50 percent capacity with social distancing. Businesses should visit OpenSafely.La.gov for more information.

The order runs for 28 days and expires on April 28, 2021.

  • Click here to read the order.
  • Click here to view the data about cases, hospitalizations and deaths across Louisiana.
  • Click here for information about COVID-19 vaccines and where to get them in Louisiana.

“Today marks a big step forward. We all have a role to play in making sure that cases don’t spike again,” Edwards said, urging everyone to keep wearing masks, social distance, and get vaccinated as soon as they can get an appointment which whichever vaccine is available. “They’re all safe and they’re all effective. This is how we’re going to put this pandemic behind us. It’s how we’re going to be able to take off our masks and get back to normal, but it depends on getting shots in people’s arms.”

Every adult in Louisiana 16 and older is now eligible to get vaccinated for COVID-19. On Tuesday, however, Gov. Edwards urged people not to hedge their vaccination bets with multiple appointments.

“Please don’t double-book. We know that’s happening across the state, the governor said, adding that cancelations and no-shows keep others from being able to access the vaccine as soon as they could have. “It’s really causing problems for the entire vaccine program.”

More than 1.8 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide to-date, with more than 720,000 vaccine series completed. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 25.7% of the state’s population has gotten at least one COVID vaccine dose, including 69% of residents 65 and older. 15.9% of the state’s population fully has been fully vaccinated.

Edwards and State Health Officer Joseph Kanter said the state expects to receive another 300,000 first doses next week.

“The month of April is going to be critical to our success,” said Edwards. “We’re going to have more doses than we’ve had at any point up until now and it is within our collective ability to make tremendous progress against this pandemic.”

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