Dear LRA Restaurants, Bars & Event Venues in Orleans Parish,
We have been in frequent communication with Mayor Cantrell and her administration as the COVID-19 event has evolved. While there are many unknowns, one thing is certain – this is an unprecedented situation, especially for our industry given the social nature of our business.
Over this weekend, there were numerous instances where operators did not heed the advice of public health officials who strongly recommended limiting social gathering. Further, Governor Edwards’ emergency proclamation set the guideline limiting gatherings to 250 guests in the same space, at the same time, in close proximity.
We cannot ignore the informed warnings regarding COVID-19. Whatever you might think, it is serious, and it is spreading. We want to do everything we can to help our industry comply and be prepared to recover from this crisis. But rest assured, if we don't heed the guidelines below, the next response from our local officials will be more dire and less open to industry input.
Please note these recommendations are the next steps for Orleans Parish restaurants, bars and entertainment venues:
· All full-service restaurants with seating cease operations at 9 p.m. daily. Further, they will work to limit their seating capacity for social distancing whether it is removing tables/chairs or using a checkerboard type seating pattern to provide more guest spacing. The goal is to reduce seating of up to 50 percent. Consider social distancing as a best practice which would include limiting large tables without proper spacing between guests.
· Please monitor your employees each day, especially those who directly serve your guests or prepare food or beverages. If possible, take temperatures and recommend those who show fever or are ill to go home.
· Post in your employee areas guidelines for proper hand washing, enhanced sanitation practices and good hygiene.
· Once any restaurant's dining room is closed at 9 p.m., a restaurant could still offer delivery until its posted closing time.
· Quick service or fast casual restaurants that offer drive thru would close their dining areas by 9 p.m. and offer ONLY drive thru service to no later than Midnight. If a restaurant doesn't offer table service, is dine in or take out only, its dining room must close at 9 p.m.
· Bars and nightclubs would make last call at 11 p.m. and have everyone out by Midnight daily and limit their capacity to up to 50 percent of posted patron limit.
· Operating times and limiting occupancy for hotel operations with restaurants and bars are included in the above measures.
· Operators will post a notice to patrons that when they depart please consider returning home.
· Gathering of guests waiting for seating or access purposes is prohibited. Encourage the use of text messaging to advise if a table is ready or their party can be seated.
· Operators will encourage no public gatherings in any area.
Today we have learned that many of our restaurant and bar members are working to modify their operating hours voluntarily as well as following the above best practices. While these are changes to how you have previously operated, we implore you to embrace that it is not business as usual.
As an industry we have to do our part to provide safe conditions for our guests and our employees. The Mayor (just as the Governor) have broad authority to take the steps necessary to lessen the impact of any declared public health emergency. This could include significantly more stringent restrictions. We appreciate Mayor Cantrell's thoughtful approach to working with us to ask you to follow this list of best practices. Please do everything you can to begin the implementation. The health and safety of our community should be a priority to all of us.
For the latest COVID-19 industry-related resources and important news, please visit www.LRA.org. Our home page has been redesigned to host the COVID-19 information. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.