Gov. Edwards confident bars can reopen without spike in COVID-19 cases

Gov. Edwards confident bars can reopen without spike in COVID-19 cases
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about his state's response to Hurricane Laura and to the coronavirus pandemic during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte) (Source: Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As East Baton Rouge Parish bars prepare to reopen, Governor John Bel Edwards says he’s confident the state can avoid another spike in coronavirus cases, like the one attributed mostly to younger people during the early summer.

The governor says a couple of things are fundamentally different this time around, primarily that fewer people are testing positive for the virus, which should indicate the virus is spreading slower throughout the community.

But there are two major differences inside the bars themselves as well. First, there won’t be any drinking after 11 p.m. under the new rules, but perhaps more importantly, no one under 21 will be allowed inside. The governor says about 20% of new coronavirus cases fall in the 18 to 21 age range, so this should really keep the bulk of the Tigerland clientele at home.

“For all of these reasons, it is a safer way to open. We were able to learn from what other states have done. We looked at guidance that was provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, for example, where they were tying the ability for bars to open for on-premises consumption to percent positivity,” Gov. Edwards said.

It should be noted the White House has instructed Louisiana to watch college towns closely, and consider putting special rules in place for bars in those cities if the case count begins to rise again. That would act as a first line of defense, so to speak, against another spike.

The vast majority of parishes that are doing well enough to reopen their bars are choosing to do so, just as EBR Parish is planning to do.

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