New Orleans Makes Gradual Move into Phase 3

The city of New Orleans announced today (Thursday, Oct. 1) that it will move into a gradual version of Phase 3. Phase 3 for New Orleans will go into effect Saturday, Oct. 3.

With the easing of restrictions, city officials will also increase enforcement efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“We have flattened the curve and slowed the spread of this virus significantly — twice. Public schools have reopened for in-person learning for students in the Pre-K through fourth grades, and we’re meeting our milestones when it comes to case numbers, fatalities, the positivity rate, and our testing numbers. Because we’re meeting these milestones, we’re ready to move to Phase 3,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Just like we did with Phases 1 and 2, our Phase 3 will differ from the state’s. There will be three parts to Phase 3, all depending on the data we see as we progress. We saw this summer what happens when we go too big too quickly. We don’t want to go back, and we don’t want to go back and forth.”

Implementing Phase 3 in steps will make it easier to gauge data and adjust restrictions, officials say.

“We’ve learned from the Phase One and Two rollouts that it is best to take a measured approach. Phase 3 will consist of three stages, easing some restrictions first, monitoring data for a period, and then further easing restrictions. The goal is to move through these stages within two to three weeks, if the data allows,” said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. “However, if our data measures indicate concern, we will be able to pause and evaluate the situation.”

Phase 3 will proceed with three separate priorities:

  • In 3.1, the City will increase capacity for operations proven to be low-risk, allow bars to sell to-go drinks, and will increase gathering sizes.
  • In 3.2, the City will consider expanding outdoor bar capacity and increasing the limits for timed, seated events and outdoor sports.
  • In 3.3, the City will consider limited indoor bar capacity, and increasing indoor and outdoor gathering sizes.

The City will start with Phase 3, priority 1, which includes the following guidelines:

  • Allowed to open at 75 percent capacity with social distancing
    • Beauty salons, barbershops, and nail salons
    • Libraries
    • Museums, zoos, aquariums
    • Office buildings and businesses
    • Restaurants
    • Shopping malls and retail stores
    • Tattoo, massage, and esthetician services
  • Alcohol Sales
    • Bars allowed to sell to-go drinks from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
    • Package liquor sales in the French Quarter limited to 8 a.m. through 11 p.m.
  • Gathering Sizes
    • Indoor: 50 people
    • Outdoor: 100 people

Additionally, bars will be allowed to sell to-go drinks between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Phase 3 order limits the hours of alcohol sales for on-site consumption at restaurants and bars. That is because late-night, uncontrolled crowds have been associated with ongoing alcohol sales.

“We have seen this in a hyper-local setting in the French Quarter entertainment district, where after restaurant alcohol sales end at 11, crowds continue drinking packaged liquor on Bourbon Street into the overnight hours. For this reason, we will limit the sales of packaged liquor in the French Quarter to between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.,” said Dr. Avegno.

The boundaries will be from the Mississippi River to Rampart Street and Esplanade Avenue to Common Street.

The City will complement the move to Phase 3 with enhanced enforcement measures to help mitigate the potential for an increased spread with more people working, visiting businesses, or gathering indoors or outdoors.

“Our increased enforcement strategy will continue the great work and partnership with the various state entities. As the need for a response to this health emergency is not ending in the short-term future, we have re-laid the foundation for a more robust, continual enforcement mechanism,” said Peter Bowen, Deputy CAO for the Office of Business and External Services. “The faster we can get compliance, the faster we can open the next round of businesses.”

Outdoors is Safer

The city has also launched a series of initiatives aimed at expanding outdoor activity for local businesses.

In partnership with the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), the city of New Orleans is rolling out a supplementary Sidewalk Café Outdoor Dining grant program. The existing Outdoor Dining grant program provides $2,000 grants to support investments in sidewalk café, courtyard, off-street parking, and other outdoor seating areas and has been available to restaurants. The program will now be available to bar owners as well. Applications will begin being accepted and reviewed on Friday, Oct. 2, at outdoordiningnola.com, and funds will begin being issued once bars are able to return to limited on-site outdoor seating in the coming weeks.

The City has also launched its Curbside Dining and Parklet program. The program will enable businesses — beginning with restaurants—to create outdoor dining and seating in areas previously dedicated to on-street parking. The Curbside Dining and Parklet program will begin this upcoming Monday, Oct. 5, with a short pilot, during which only restaurants within the Downtown Development District (DDD) boundaries — which are Iberville Street, Claiborne Avenue, the Pontchartrain Expressway, and the Mississippi River — will be eligible to apply for the new permit. Restaurants interested in applying for a Curbside Dining and Parklet permit can do so through the City’s OneStop portal and by outdoordining@nola.gov. Again, permit applications will begin being accepted and reviewed on Monday, Oct. 5.

Restaurants and bar owners outside of the DDD boundaries interested in the permit should go to outdoordiningnola.com to submit their information to be notified when the permit is available citywide in a few weeks.

To support these the City and NOLABA will be launching the second round of larger Outdoor Dining grants, which will launch once the Curbside Dining and Parklet permit is available citywide (on or around Oct. 19). The Curbside Dining and Parklet grants will be $6,000 grants that will support the creation of Curbside Dining and Parklet spaces at businesses throughout the City. Businesses will also apply for the grant at outdoordiningnola.com.

“It goes without saying that our restaurants and bars are the backbones of New Orleans community and culture, and we know that they have been deeply impacted by COVID,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, Director, Office of Economic Development. “National trends suggest that half of all restaurants and bars are in danger of not surviving the pandemic. As we balance public health and supporting businesses, we know that they are two sides of the same coin: to get businesses back open and New Orleanians back to work, we also have to ensure that they are safe for both employees and patrons. We are not going to allow the city to go backwards.”

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