Edwards Closes Bars, Casinos; Legislature Suspends Session

Legislature Opening Louisiana
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

BATON ROUGE – Gov. John Bel Edwards banned gatherings larger than 50 people and ordered casinos, bars and movie theaters to close at midnight, while restaurants will be limited to delivery, take out and drive-through orders only, the governor’s office announced Monday.

Normal operations may be able to resume on April 13, though the situation will be reevaluated seven days prior.

“These limitations were difficult to make, but they are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health of Louisianans and flatten the curve.” Edwards said.

Also on Monday, Louisiana lawmakers suspended the current legislative session until at least March 31.

“With every decision we make, we are balancing the health and welfare of our citizens, staff and legislators with our constitutional responsibilities,” state Senate President Page Cortez said. “At this time, we believe it is in the best interest of our state to temporarily adjourn the session.”

In Louisiana as of Monday, there are 132 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two people have died.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and other public health officials are urging people to practice social distancing to reduce the severity of the outbreak and hopefully avoid overwhelming health care providers. Social distancing basically means avoiding crowds, avoiding social interaction as much as possible, and maintaining six feet between yourself and other people when you must interact.

Edwards said he had met with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy Monday morning and was on a conference call with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that lasted more than an hour. The president and vice president “were very clear that we must significantly expand our mitigation efforts to slow the progress of COVID-19 before there is more community spread,” Edwards said.

“Action must be taken now, even in areas where there are no confirmed cases yet,” Edwards said.

COVID-19 is the official name of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, coughing and trouble breathing.

Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

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