New Orleans set to lift stay-at-home order Saturday
Following the statewide lifting of the stay-at-home order, New Orleans will begin to open up businesses Saturday at 6 a.m.
New Orleans, considered a hot spot for the coronavirus with 6,718 cases and 477 deaths, will have stricter mandates in place for Phase One, said Mayor LaToya Cantrell at a press conference Tuesday. Tourism draws such as restaurants and museums can begin to welcome guests again, however they must do so in a limited capacity.
“Restaurants, at 25 percent capacity, they will be required to have reservations,” Cantrell said. “If someone walks in, they will be required to have their name and phone number. We all have responsibility and a role to play when it comes to contact tracing.”
Restaurants, barber shops and salons will be required to keep track of reservations for more than 21 days, she said, as part of the contact tracing outlined by the Louisiana State Department of Health that will be used if there is an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Museums and attractions, including the zoo and aquarium, may also reopen under the guidelines of 25 percent capacity and maximum 100 guests at a time. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is excluded and will not be able to reopen during Phase One.
Audubon Nature Institute will follow a phased approach to reopening its attractions, which include the Zoo, Aquarium, Insectarium and Nature Center.
“Per state and city public health directives, Audubon will follow a phased approach that strictly limits attendance and programming,” Audubon Nature Institute said in a statement. “Along with attendance limits that support physical distancing, other safety initiatives include online timed ticketing, requiring staff to wear masks in public spaces, and stringent cleaning protocols. We will announce our plans to reopen safely for our employees and guests once we have finalized these new operating procedures.”
New Orleans museums are also working to plan their reopenings in line with Phase One guidelines. The Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), the Ogden and more have been providing virtual access to their collections with the May 16 date in mind as possibly being able to open their doors.
In a letter to the public, Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman director, said the museum is partnering with leading arts data firm LaPlaca Cohen to help measure the impact of COVID-19 on the arts community.
“We need to remember that, at this very moment, we are not in a “normal phase” of anything in any way, and our collective future will be a “new normal,” which will require adaptability,” Taylor said. “We will plan for a new, even more responsive institution to community needs as we look ahead to the day when we will once again welcome visitors into our doors—a time to reimagine not restart.”
Many popular tourist attractions and activities will remain closed in Orleans Parish during Phase One. Those include tours, casinos, bars without food permits, live entertainment and event venues, spas and those eternal souvenir providers – tattoo parlors.
Additionally, those venturing out in public are required to wear masks or face coverings when going inside businesses. Masks are not required for outdoor activity as long as social distancing guidelines, such us maintaining six feet of distance and keeping groups smaller than 10, are upheld.
Mayor Cantrell is calling this phase “Safest at Home” and is encouraging residents to continue to stay home except for essential needs. At this point, eating in a restaurant feels like an essential need, though the logistics of eating with a mask on are daunting.
Businesses that are opening or considering opening are asked to register online with the Louisiana state Open Safely program. It has resources and information about accessing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff, opening guidelines, sanitation guidelines and more.
There is no set date for Phase Two opening. Officials will be monitoring the number of new cases, hospital capacity and ventilator availability and make their timing decisions accordingly.