Mayor Cantrell Announces New Restrictions to Help Reduce Community Spread of Covid-19 in New Orleans
Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced new restrictions as part of the City’s efforts to stem the community spread of COVID-19 that has increased over the course of the Phase Two reopening period that began on June 13. Effective Saturday, July 25, at 6 a.m., the City is prohibiting all takeout and drive-thru alcohol sales. Bars — regardless of whether they have a Louisiana Department of Health food permit — and restaurants will no longer be allowed to make takeout or drive-thru sales of alcoholic beverages.
“We understand the impact this is having on our bar community. Moving into Phase Two, we were very much focused on our economy and those industries that make up that community. Unfortunately, we have seen the negative impact that has had on the City of New Orleans," said Mayor Cantrell. "What happens next depends on what we do right now."
“As you have heard us say over and over again, our primary goal at this point in the pandemic is to suppress the virus so that we can safely send kids back to school. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. And looking at the trends in new cases — many of which continue to be linked to social gatherings and bars — we do not believe we will get there under the current restrictions,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director, New Orleans Health Department. “It’s important to note here that the closure of bars is a strong recommendation for Louisiana made by the White House Coronavirus Task Force due to the surge of cases in the state. We agree that restricting the activities that clearly continue to be linked to new cases is common sense. We all agree that the best place for kids to be is in the classroom. So let this be a motivator for all of us. We owe it to the next generation.”
“Mayor Cantrell has taken courageous steps today to protect the citizens of New Orleans. Her bold actions will save lives, and I, too, am asking bars and businesses to adhere to the regulations to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our city. I support Mayor Cantrell’s decision to prohibit the takeout of alcoholic beverages, especially after seeing recent photos from Bourbon Street showing crowds of people in close proximity. One of the challenges is allowing businesses along Bourbon Street to stay open when they are so close together, creating a partying atmosphere that doesn’t easily allow for social distancing. We have to put the health of our citizens first,” said District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who represents the French Quarter.
At this time, the City will continue with its current social gathering restrictions. Indoor gatherings will remain limited to 25 individuals; outdoor gatherings will remain limited to 50 individuals. All gathering participants must wear masks and practice social distancing.
Since the City moved to Phase Two, the City has seen unfavorable trends in COVID-19 data. Currently there have been 9,752 cases and 548 deaths in Orleans Parish. There has been an almost doubling of the daily average cases to approximately twice the threshold of 50 cases a day. There’s been an increase in the positivity rate from 2-3 percent to over 6 percent. There also has been a more than doubling of the COVID-19 positive hospitalization rates with overall saturation of the local healthcare system, as well as increased overflow burden from the rest of the state and Mississippi. This is a clear indication that the city has returned to widespread community transmission. Mayor Cantrell expressed concern that there is a very narrow window to act and turn the situation around in order to get area students back to school safely.
With the new restrictions also come new opportunities for residents and business owners. The City announced a new incentive grant program for restaurants to support and expand their operations. Individual grants up to $6,000 will be available to local restaurants and other businesses that wish to add or expand their outside dining. This funding will allow for any physical improvements needed for outside dining. The program will begin with piloting curbside dining and parklets in five to seven commercial corridors over the coming month, and then the program will expand citywide soon after.
The City has already waived permitting and inspection fees to expand outdoor seating. For this program, approximately $200,000 to $250,000 in funding will be available, depending on need and benefit.
The City is also launching a virtual BuildNOLA Small Business Training Program in partnership with Delgado Community College and other local and regional partners. Registration opens today and will continue through Aug. 24, 2020. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can register at www.buildnola2020.com.
Dr. Avegno also announced that the federal government has agreed to send surge testing resources to New Orleans. These resources — similar to what is being offered in Baton Rouge — will allow the City to significantly increase the number of tests offered to residents in the region daily. The program will be supported by the Louisiana National Guard and will begin next Tuesday (July 28) at the UNO Lakefront Arena as a drive-thru testing site with the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rotations will be made in the weeks to come at the sites of university partners around the city.
More information will be available on ready.nola.gov/testing.
Residents are encouraged to continue the best practices to suppress the spread of this virus: