story by staff reporter Nora Drenner
Phase one opening of the state begins Friday, May 15. That was the announcement Gov. Edwards made in a news conference Monday, May 11 at 2:30 p.m. As a result, the current stay at home order is being lifted, however, the elderly and those with underlying health issues and compromised immune systems are encouraged to remain sheltered in place.
The phase one opening mirrors the guidelines set by the White House last month. As a result, churches, barbers, hair and nail salons, gyms and fitness centers, restaurants, coffee shops, cafes and, theaters can open as long as strict social distancing guidelines and sanitation protocols are followed.
Museums, zoos and aquariums are also allowed to open as long as there are no tactile exhibits. In malls, only stores with exterior entrances can open.
Massage parlors, spas, bars without food permits and tattoo parlors are among the businesses remaining closed.
Guidelines for those allowed to open include occupancy rates of 25 percent of normal to allow for proper social distancing. Occupancy capacity is based on the gross square footage of the building and the use of the building, as well as the amount of square footage required for individuals to stay six feet apart. The occupancy capacity includes employees and customers. Folks can go to opensafely.la.gov for more information.
Phase One reopening will remain in effect until June 5, said Gov. Edwards noting the next announcement regarding remaining at phase one or moving to phase two will be made on June 1.
Additionally, Gov. Edwards attributed an increase in testing and contact tracing to the decision to enter phase one. Also, positive results are going down as testing ramps up, and hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, said Edwards.