by staff reporter Nora Drenner
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today, Monday, April 27, t he is extending the current stay-at-home order to May 15, citing Louisiana does not currently met criteria from the White House for entering Phase One of reopening.
Edwards’ explained there are positive signs in the state that COVID-19 is waning, however, some regions continue to see new cases according to data from the Louisiana Department of Health.
“Thanks to the commitment of the people of Louisiana, our state has made progress in flattening the curve and reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, we still have a little work to do before we meet the criteria to safely move to the next phase of reopening, so I will extend the state’s Stay at Home order until May 15, with a few minor changes,” Gov. Edwards said. “
Three changes in the new stay at home order are: malls remain closed to the public but stores inside may open for curbside delivery; restaurants are allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, but no table service is allowed which means folks can order and take their food outside to eat as long as they maintain social distancing from others; and all employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.
Businesses that previously were directed to be closed will remain closed under the May 1 extended order. Those businesses include salons, barbershops, bars, and casinos. Non-essential retail businesses in Louisiana continue to be able to open as long as fewer than 10 people are inside.
Edwards also encouraged everyone to wear a mask when out in public. “Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Gov. Edwards said. “Wearing a mask is being a good neighbor and in Louisiana, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. Your mask protects me and other people, and my mask protects you.” Gov. Edwards nor his hearing-impaired interpreter were wearing masks during the news conference, although he requires all reporters attending to do so.
Phase One would ease restrictions on public spaces such as churches and restaurants. It would also open businesses such as barbershops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks. Phase One occupancy for those businesses would be 25 percent of the norm.
Edwards encourages business owners and faith leaders to prepare and plan for phase one reopening by understanding building maximum occupancy limit for their business, which may require contacting local government or the state fire marshal office. They should also plan on ensuring their employees have masks, said Edwards.
Gov. Edwards said he would make an announcement regarding moving to Phase One by May 11. .