Mask mandate, bar closures start at midnight

Gathering size limits change too

Louisiana's statewide mask mandate to control the spread of coronavirus begins at midnight tonight.

“Cases in Louisiana continue to increase, including setting a record-high number of new cases reported in one day," Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said in announcing the new order last week. "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.”

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He says this is an effort to avoid going back to Phase One rules or reopenings.

“Right now, all Louisianans need to work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing their face masks, keeping social distance, washing their hands frequently and staying at home when they are feeling sick. These are reasonable expectations while we fight to reduce the spread of the illness in our state."

Here are the details:

MASK MANDATE

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.

CLOSURE OF BARS TO ALL ON PREMISES CONSUMPTION

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.

GATHERING SIZE

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 six 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% 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.

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