Governor Edwards' Chief of Staff, Mark Cooper, talks about the decision to move into Phase III COVID restrictions and what the lessening of restrictions means for the state.

The Governor announced on Tuesday that Louisiana was ending it's Phase II restrictions and loosening limitations on businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, bars and even music venues.

"(The Governor) is looking at the numbers every day," Cooper says, "As it relates to (Tuesday), there was no discussion to keep things as they were or to make things more restrictive. The question was, what's going to open up? Everyone was in agreement that we'd go to Phase III. The question was, how far will we open?"

The Governor's Phase III order is effective Wednesday and will be in effect until March 31. Edwards' statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since last July, is still in place.

Cooper reiterates that the Phase III rules will allow a majority of businesses, restaurants and salons to open to 75% capacity. Restrictions on gyms and fitness centers will remain the same, with 50 percent of their capacity allowed,.

Bars across the state will be able to open for indoor service at 25% of capacity, but not to exceed 250 people. However, in those in parishes where the percent positivity is 5% or lower for fourteen days, those businesses may increase indoor service to 50%, but cannot to exceed 250 people.

Alcohol sales still must end at 11pm. Patrons must be masked at all times except when consuming food or drink, and as in Phase II, they must be served at socially distanced tables.

Live music will be allowed indoors under guidance rules provided by the State Fire Marshal's office. Indoor musical gatherings may operate at 50% capacity with a maximum of 250. Outdoor venues may also operate at 50% with no attendance limit. However, social distancing of the standard six feet is mandated.

Elsewhere, conventions, conferences, indoor sporting events, fairs and festivals are allowed to operate at 50% capacity with social distancing. In addition, pre-event approval from Fire Marshal and the Louisiana Department of Health is required.

Cooper also emphasized that under Phase III there is no capacity limits on church gatherings.

 

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