NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some New Orleans restaurant owners are expressing frustration after learning the changes to the governor’s stay-at-home mandate wouldn’t apply to them.
There are a lot of New Orleans restaurants with plenty of space to set up tables and chairs outside but right now, Mayor Latoya Cantrell says it’s too soon to use them and some doctors agree.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, Cantrell made it clear that the changes the governor made to the stay-at-home order would not apply to New Orleans. That means stores will not be able to offer curbside delivery and restaurants can’t have outdoor seating.
“The governor says to do something. I feel like we need to do it. And I follow our leadership,” says chef and restauranteur Scot Craig.
Craig was preparing to debut two new picnic tables excited about a step towards normalcy.
“It’s baby steps and baby steps are good. It’s just really disappointing. I don’t understand the thinking behind it,” says Craig.
“The data sets they look at tend to be more localized and specific to one area,” says Health Educator Dr. Eric Griggs.
Griggs says New Orleans’ dire situation early on in the pandemic may require extra precautions.
“If we don’t feel like we’re able to do phase one as an entire state, and New Orleans was a hot spot, then I expect you to see more restrictions because we’re hotter. We were world-ranked for a while. It’s going to take a while and a lot more deliberation,” says Griggs.
Other restaurant owners are unfazed.
“It was kind of weird in process like how that would work on our end. And we have, we have about 60 seats outdoors that you can actually get to,” says Ronnie Evans, owner of Blue Oak BBQ.
Blue Oak BBQ is far from struggling right now.
“BBQ is like pandemic proof it seems,” says Evans.
Evans considered outdoor seating for the dining experience, but in the end, decided it didn’t make sense for Blue Oak.
“The fact there’s no table service, how do you police it and make sure people are taking proper precautions and sanitizing things properly,” says Evans. “It seems like it be kind of difficult to do.”
Craig says the start of phase one won’t make much of a difference from him.
He says opening his place up at 25 percent capacity is unrealistic but he says he might use it as an opportunity to pull out those picnic tables for outdoor seating.