The City of New Orleans today announced that it will be moving into a gradual version of Phase 3 in its continued efforts to reopen the city in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. Along with the easing of some restrictions, the City also will ramp up enforcement to mitigate potential spread as well as provide more options for businesses to survive and thrive to fuel our economic recovery.
“We have flattened the curve and slowed the spread of this virus significantly — TWICE. Public schools have reopened for in-person learning for students in the Pre-K through fourth grades, and we’re meeting our milestones when it comes to case numbers, fatalities, the positivity rate, and our testing numbers. Because we’re meeting these milestones, we’re ready to move to Phase 3,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Just like we did with Phases 1 and 2, our Phase 3 will differ from the State’s. There will be three parts to Phase 3, all depending on the data we see as we progress. We saw this summer what happens when we go too big too quickly. We don’t want to go back, and we don’t want to go back and forth.”
[WATCH: Phase 3 press conference]
“We’ve learned from the Phase One and Two rollouts that it is best to take a measured approach. Phase 3 will consist of three stages, easing some restrictions first, monitoring data for a period, and then further easing restrictions. The goal is to move through these stages within two to three weeks, if the data allows,” said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. “However, if our data measures indicate concern, we will be able to pause and evaluate the situation.”
[LEARN MORE: Dr. Avegno's Phase 3 presentation.]
Phase 3 will proceed accordingly, set up in three separate priorities:
The City will start with Phase 3, priority 1, which includes the following guidelines:
“We have seen this in a hyper-local setting in the French Quarter entertainment district, where after restaurant alcohol sales end at 11, crowds continue drinking packaged liquor on Bourbon Street into the overnight hours. For this reason, we will limit the sales of packaged liquor in the French Quarter to between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.,” said Dr. Avegno.
The boundaries will be from the Mississippi River to Rampart Street and Esplanade Avenue to Common Street.
The City will continue to work with the State and ATC to find a way to ease restrictions on breweries to allow them to get back into their regular operations with the appropriate restrictions in accordance with Phase 3.1.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
To maintain the balance of public health and supporting businesses throughout the response to the pandemic, the City is working to get businesses back open and ensure safety for both employees and patrons. With the acknowledgment that being outside is safer than being inside, Mayor Cantrell tasked her administration to produce innovative options for businesses and residents.
The result is a series of initiatives aimed at supporting businesses, providing safe spaces, and activating our streets. With those goals in mind, the City is announcing a few different initiatives:
First, the City, in partnership with the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), is rolling out a supplementary Sidewalk Café Outdoor Dining grant program. The existing Outdoor Dining grant program provides $2,000 grants to support investments in sidewalk café, courtyard, off-street parking, and other outdoor seating areas and has been available to restaurants. This same program will now be available to bar owners as well. Applications will begin being accepted and reviewed on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, at outdoordiningnola.com, and funds will begin being issued once bars are able to return to limited on-site outdoor seating in the coming weeks.
The City is also excited to announce the launch of a Curbside Dining and Parklet program. The program will enable businesses — beginning with restaurants—to create outdoor dining and seating in areas previously dedicated to on-street parking. This will support our business community, create safe places to socialize outside, and activate our streets in a way that only New Orleans can. The Curbside Dining and Parklet program will begin this upcoming Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, with a short pilot, during which only restaurants within the Downtown Development District (DDD) boundaries — which are Iberville Street, Claiborne Avenue, the Pontchartrain Expressway, and the Mississippi River — will be eligible to apply for the new permit. The City will be partnering with the DDD on the pilot to support the participating restaurants. The collaboration with the DDD will ensure the success of the pilot, and the DDD will be able to help provide participating businesses with resources to ensure that their outdoor dining areas are successful. The pilot will run for approximately two weeks (Oct. 5-19). Restaurants interested in applying for a Curbside Dining and Parklet permit can do so through the City’s OneStop portal and by firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, permit applications will begin being accepted and reviewed on Monday, Oct. 5.
Other restaurant and bar owners outside of the DDD boundaries but who are interested in the permit should go to outdoordiningnola.com to submit their information to be notified when the permit is available citywide in a few weeks.
To support these the City and NOLABA will be launching a second round of larger Outdoor Dining grants, which will launch once the Curbside Dining and Parklet permit is available citywide (on or around Oct. 19). The Curbside Dining and Parklet grants will be $6,000 grants that will support the creation of Curbside Dining and Parklet spaces at businesses throughout the City. Businesses will also apply for the grant at outdoordiningnola.com.
Finally, the City and the French Market Corporation will be collaborating on a “Safe and Social” Demonstration on one block of French Market Place. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this administration has also spearheaded efforts to more creatively utilize the public right of way for “people-centric” uses in the French Quarter. Over the past few months, the City has been working with a range of stakeholders to explore a number of initiatives, and this is one of the projects that has been the most well-received.
The “Safe and Social” Demonstration will begin in mid-October. Weekly, from 8 a.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Monday, vehicular traffic along French Market Place between Gov. Nicholls Street and Ursulines Avenue will be limited to emergency and sanitation vehicles to allow for full use of the public right-of-way for vending, seating, walking, and engagement. The goal of this demonstration is to create new opportunities for French Market vendors, connections for local businesses, and ways for patrons to interact with one another in safe, socially distanced encounters.
“It goes without saying that our restaurants and bars are the backbones of New Orleans community and culture, and we know that they have been deeply impacted by COVID,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, Director, Office of Economic Development. “National trends suggest that half of all restaurants and bars are in danger of not surviving the pandemic. As we balance public health and supporting businesses, we know that they are two sides of the same coin: to get businesses back open and New Orleanians back to work, we also have to ensure that they are safe for both employees and patrons. We are not going to allow the city to go backwards.”