New Orleans to move into Phase 3.1: More crowds & masks

City of New Orleans moves into first stage of Phase 3

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The City of New Orleans is moving into the first three stages of Phase 3, according to Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Cantrell made the announcement on Thursday. She said during Phase 3.1, the city will have increased restaurant capacity, and bars can sell go drinks. Businesses and retail services will also have increased capacity. Cantrell said 3.1 begins Oct. 3 at 6 a.m.

There are two other stages of Phase 3 as well.

There will also be an increase in indoor and outdoor gathering size limits. There is no change to limits on crowds at timed and seated events – like church.

Some shops and restaurants all along areas like Magazine Street struggling to stay afloat while following those guidelines. Over the last several weeks they have had to watch neighboring parishes get more leeway as the rest of the state moved into Phase 3 and New Orleans has remained in Phase 2.

Under the state’s Phase 3 restrictions, restaurants, salons, gyms and churches can allow 75 percent capacity. But bars that don’t serve food are still required to stay closed to on-site consumption unless they can prove their most recent case numbers are below a certain threshold.

People in New Orleans will still be required to wear masks and practice social distancing in Phase 3.1.

* Mask order remains in effect.

* Restaurants - 75% indoor capacity /100% outdoor capacity with proper distancing.

* Bars - To-go drinks only

* Indoor public/private gatherings - up to 50 individuals

* Outdoor public/private gatherings - up to 100 individuals

That rule has not applied for New Orleans though where the positivity rate is currently at 1.6 percent and the city has not reported a COVID-related death in a week.

State and local health officials say while the numbers over the past few weeks in New Orleans are encouraging, there are plenty of situations at play that could increase the risk of a COVID spike.

“I’m talking about K through 12 schools coming back in session. College is back. People getting together to watch games. And all these other things that are picking up,” says Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health.

“New Orleans was at the epicenter of this on the front end. Our people had a disproportionate impact with 587 deaths so far. So it’s something we have to take very, very seriously,” says Beau Tidwell, Director of Communications for the City of New Orleans.

Cantrell says she also plans to issue guidelines for Halloween celebrations.

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