Gov. Edwards: Holidays this year cannot look the same as they have in previous years
BATON ROUGE - As a year unlike any other draws to a close, federal and state officials are urging citizens to avoid traditional holiday gatherings and to, instead, simply stay home.
The reason boils down to reducing the spread of COVID-19, which has been blamed for more than 323,000 deaths in the U.S.
Despite the rollout of Pfizer's and Moderna's COVID-fighting vaccines, the virus continues to plague the nation with a complicated illness that's impacted nearly every aspect of modern life.
Understandably, after navigating a life that's been upended by COVID for nearly a year, many long for a comforting and traditional holiday season.
But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the gatherings that most enjoy during Christmas and New Years could be dangerous.
The CDC warns, "As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase across the United States, the safest way to celebrate the winter holidays is to celebrate at home with people who live with you.
Governor John Bel Edwards echoed this advice during a Tuesday (Dec. 22) news conference when he said, “I cannot stress this enough: the holidays this year simply cannot look the same as they have in previous years.”
He urged citizens to adhere to the restrictions detailed in his Modified Phase Two order, which has been extended through January 13, 2021.
“Having holiday parties where people from various households gather together, especially indoors, is dangerous and could lead to the spread of COVID and the loss of family members and friends," the Governor continued. "This year has been tragic and sad and we finally have the hope of better therapeutics and a vaccine, which means the end of the pandemic is in our sights. Now is not the time to let down our guard simply because it is Christmas or New Year’s Eve.”
In hopes of protecting citizens from the deadly virus, the Governor is keeping the statewide mask mandate in effect.
In addition to this, the following restrictions remain in place:
-All Louisianans are encouraged to avoid gatherings of individuals not part of their households.
-All businesses, private and public sectors, are encouraged to use remote work where they can.
-All restaurants are limited to 50% of their indoor capacity. Restaurants should move as much dining outdoors as they can. Social distancing is required.
-For bars in parishes above 5% positivity, bars are closed to indoor sales and consumption but open for outdoor consumption at tables only and at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people. Social distancing is required. Take-out and delivery will still be available.
-Retail businesses may open at 50% capacity, except for essential businesses, as defined by federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
-Gyms may be open at 50% of their capacity.
-Places of worship will remain at a maximum of 75% of their capacity or the number of people who can physically distance with at least six feet between each immediate household, whichever is less.
-Barber and beauty shops, and nail salons may open at 50% of their capacity.
-Movie theaters may open at 50% of their capacity.
-Indoor gatherings at event/receptions centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 75 individuals.
-Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150 individuals when strict physical distancing is not possible.
-All sporting events will be capped at 25% capacity.
Though the federal government has not issued nationwide travel restrictions, its health advisors are urging the public to remain vigilant in putting COVID precautions into practice.
Shortly after the Thanksgiving holidays, the nation's top infections disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Christiams holiday season was likely to be an especially difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic.
“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Fauci told reporters in November. “I don’t want to frighten people, except to say it is not too late to do something about this.”