Some New Orleans businesses concerned about uptick in COVID-19 cases

Updated: Jun. 21, 2020 at 8:54 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Governor says state doctors are reviewing recent data to determine whether Louisiana will move forward in lessening restrictions due to Coronavirus. It comes after a week-long increase in cases.

Many New Orleans bars and restaurants now have at least a week of business under their belt after the start of Phase Two. Some, like Katie's Owner Scot Craig, are enjoying expanded seating.

"Last Sunday we opened and we were a little overwhelmed. We felt like we had too many people in the place so, this week, we scaled it down," Craig said.

Craig says he’s playing it safe, anxious to avoid any risks that could jeopardize his operation.

“We are doing everything by guidelines at our restaurants to do this the right way,” Craig said.

"Indoor seating at 25-percent. We said, only on the patio. When they said up to 50-percent, we're doing 25-percent. So we're trying to stay, just out of an abundance of caution, one step behind whatever we're allowed to do. And the city is staying one step behind what the state is allowed to do. We are two steps behind what might be going on in Baton Rouge, for example," Bar Owner Cole Newton explained.

Though he takes precautions, Newton worries what impact other establishments could have on restrictions, especially after learning several Tigerland bars might have contributed to a cluster of at least 100 COVID-19 cases in Orleans Parish.

"It's frustrating to watch other businesses not abide by those guidelines," said Newton, owner of 12 Mile Limit and The Domino. "We could really all suffer the consequences of that, so I implore people to take this seriously."

City health leaders have warned failing to follow guidelines could lead to tighter restrictions, but the governor says that's within Louisianans' control.

"Nobody wants to go backwards and start imposing more restrictions and we shouldn't need to do that if people would do what we're asking. It's not just wearing masks, it's washing hands, staying home when you're sick and staying six feet apart," Governor Edwards explained.

Edwards made the statement not long after Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Alexander Billioux presented evidence on an uptick in cases.

"That slight decrease in testing is happening at the same time we're seeing a statewide increase in cases and that's concerning," said Dr. Billioux.

Business owners like Craig only hope residents heed warnings so he and others can maintain the momentum they've built.

"Let's follow the guidelines and see what happens," Craig said.

Edwards is expected to make an announcement about Louisiana’s Coronavirus response Monday afternoon at 2:30 PM.

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