Event venues hope for relaxed covid restrictions as health leaders caution of new variant strain

New Orleans Set To Ease COVID-19 Restrictions

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -With an eye-catching gazebo in the middle of a sprawling outdoor space on St. Charles avenue, the Elms mansion still struggles against the competition.

“Unfortunately we have lost many events to other parishes because our restrictions are so much stricter of course,” said Jessica Serrano.

General manager, Jessica Serrano says they have the space to hold a safe, socially-distanced wedding outside, but says the tighter restrictions force brides to make dream-wedding concessions.

“We have an intimate wedding scheduled for this Saturday, right now the bride has been made aware under the current restrictions we are able to have two of them and family,” said Serrano.

New Orleans’ restrictions are more stringent than the state. Louisiana limits indoor gatherings to 25 percent or 75 people, outdoor gatherings to 25 percent or 150 people.

The city’s restricted any gatherings larger than a household.

“I understand the mayor is just trying to keep us safe and that’s why New Orleans has done so well, but it is a little frustrating to see all of the business go elsewhere especially after we’ve spent so much time energy and money planning his events and then at a moment’s notice they just find another venue and other vendors elsewhere,” said Serrano.

Anticipating the city lifts some restrictions, it comes at a time when a new, more transmissible variant of the virus is now in New Orleans.

“These strains are emerging everywhere it’s a matter of detecting them with surveillance systems,” said Dr. Fred Lopez.

According to the state health department, the CDC’s only reported one case of the UK variant strain in Louisiana. But LSU health’s Dr. Fred Lopez says there is likely more. The state is simply waiting for the results from genetic testing.

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Lopez: “We have not been, the United States has not been, but as these strains are starting to emerge the ramping up of the surveillance is being done.” He says New Orleans is starting to see a decline in the number of cases, but encourages continued mitigation measures, especially given the variant strains.

With masks and sanitizer ready, Serrano says that would be no problem hosting a safe, though slightly larger gathering.

“I think it would be an opportunity to show the city hey we learned a lot this past year and we want to re-open when its safe,” said Serrano.

The city should announce tomorrow which restrictions they’re lifting. The city’s last reported positivity rate however was over 5 percent, which below 5 percent is the state’s threshold to reopen bar service to 25 percent capacity indoor.

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