NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Mayor Latoya Cantrell is pleased with the first days of the city’s reopening of its economy. The city allowed non-essential businesses to resume operation on May 16.
“To date, we’re over 2,100, so we’re continuing to see businesses register which is a good sign. As it relates to activity throughout the city it seems really healthy,” said Cantrell. “We have had an overwhelming, I would say, response to those who are following, continuing to trust and demonstrate civic trust and that means to me following the guidelines, following the rules.”
She said a handful of businesses were not in compliance but have since fallen in line.
"We also have been able to identify just a couple of, you know, businesses that were not in compliance but with outreach in an enforcement they have since come on, you know, into compliance and that’s a good sign and a really good step toward ensuring that we stay on the path of real progress without any regression and that’s the top priority for the city of New Orleans, as we, as we open up,” Cantrell said.
Cantrell discussed the progress the city has made during a one-on-one interview with FOX 8.
"We have successfully flattened the curve because of the response of the public and the actions of the public and we're asking the public to continue to do what they've demonstrated that they can do, flatten this curve, make this city move forward, progressing in recovery."
She said it is important to have businesses collect the names of their customers to aid in contact tracing related to the pandemic when it is needed.
"Well, I mean that’s basic information, name and phone numbers, it’s something that we do as we make reservations, as we make appointments, and so we’re asking. And it’s worth it to have that extra cover to keep people safe in our community. That’s what this is all about. We are up to 500 deaths in the city of New Orleans, those are people, those are lives lost that we will not see again, and they matter,” Cantrell said.
And while there are new restrictions in place for businesses in New Orleans, Mayor Cantrell says the city has taken steps to help businesses deal with the new rules.
“We moved forward with allowing those businesses, for example, restaurants that do not have adequate indoors or even access to outdoors but have private space, we’ve allowed them to move forward with turning that private space into outdoor seating, that could be a parking lot they own, that could be at another adjacent property that they own that they could utilize,” Cantrell said.
The city also allows businesses to seek permits for curbside seating.
"We have also made provisions for permits for businesses to be allowed to go through the process but to be able to go ahead with curbside seating. We're making sure that they go through the process, so that we can ensure that ADA compliance, for example, that has to be in place and also the correct distancing as it relates to the use of that public right of way,” said the mayor.
New Orleans has some restrictions that are tighter than the state’s for reopening. Cantrell was asked when she anticipates Harrah’s Casino, which is licensed by the state, will be allowed by the city to resume operation as well as video poker.
"As it relates to Harrah’s Casino and even the Fair Grounds, one of the reasons that I did not put a date on my proclamation is that I'm very much focused on using and looking at that data to drive decision-making efforts for the city. And so, as we look to one, how we have responded to the first phase of reopening we need to allow at least 21 days to thoroughly assess how well we are doing with the reopening, that will dictate and determine what we do next and that could be the casinos as well as the Fair Grounds but again the data doesn't show me that yet, but when it does I have no reason to hold off if the data says the city of New Orleans is ripe and prime and healthy to move forward,” Cantrell stated.
Cantrell was asked to prognosticate the earliest the city might be able to resume hosting major events and welcome back thousands of tourists.
"Sure, if I had a crystal ball I would like that to be as soon as possible, you know, as soon as possible, you know, let the data reflect that we're ready to resume normal operations and gatherings and loving on one another and that's what we're used to doing and demonstrating that with a hug,” she said with a smile.
And what worries the mayor as the city makes progress against the virus? "Well, what worries me is if people demonstrate that they no longer trust the data, the science, as well as government in making the best decisions possible to keep us all safe. That means, you know, if folks do not adhere to the guidelines and the mandates, that also include wearing face masks or coverings in public,” said Cantrell. “What worries me is if we regress, I do not want this city to regress in the progress that we made.”