Louisiana enters Phase 1 of statewide reopening, Friday
Once a hot spot for coronavirus infections, Louisiana is officially easing up Friday on economically devastating business closures and public gathering restrictions that Gov. John Bel Edwards credits with slowing the spread of the virus.
With certain limitations, most Louisiana residents can eat inside restaurants again. Indoor church services can resume. Those wanting some exercise can work out in fitness centers. Barbers and hair and nail salons can open again.
The limitations: Restaurants, gyms, churches and other service providers where customers enter and linger will have strict limits on capacity. Retail stores, many of which were already able to open under earlier restrictions, still must maintain social distancing from, and among, customers.
On Friday, casinos will be allowed to open 50% of their games, such as slot machines and tables, as opposed to the original rule of 25% of gaming positions. The change was ushered in after the state received backlash for the limitations set on the gambling industry.
Click here for more specific Phase One guidelines directly from the governor's office and click here to download official documents containing regulations specific to each type of business allowed to reopen during Phase One.
Ruffin Rodrigue says he’s ready to move beyond takeout service at his two Ruffino’s restaurants in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
“It’s 5% of our business. It kept some people employed,” he said Thursday as he prepared for Friday’s eagerly awaited reopening.
He said he’s now fully staffed with around 230 employees between the two restaurants. And he’s ready to see his, and other restaurants, open again.
“I hope these restaurants get the information that they can open safely with the new laws and still make sure customers feel safe,” he said.
In March, the state was a hot spot for the virus and there were worries that cases of the disease it causes, COVID-19, would overwhelm the state health system. The number of confirmed cases still grows daily. But hospitalizations have trended steadily downward since early April and the percentage of new cases relative to the number of tests is declining. Those are among the hopeful trends leading to Friday’s easing in most of the state.
Restrictions in New Orleans are scheduled to last one more day, under orders from Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
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