On Wednesday (Jan. 6), City officials announced a return to modified Phase One restrictions, with reduced capacity limits and gathering restrictions. The changes will go into effect at 6 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8, and will last for three weeks.
“After three weeks, we will evaluate our progress, “ said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “If we are in a good place, and that’s what I am hoping, for we can take steps forward.”
The Mayor said increased community spread, higher case counts, skyrocketing positivity rate and increased hospitalizations have made the return to tighter restrictions necessary, adding that it is important for New Orleanians to “flatten the curve” for a third time.
“With vaccines coming but our COVID-19 numbers rising, these next few weeks will be a defining moment in the history of our response to this pandemic. That’s why we need everyone in our community to take this change in COVID-19 restrictions very seriously. We are in a precarious situation, one that will not get better unless we have everyone on board,” said Cantrell. “These restrictions are for the short term, but they are in place for a reason. We must work together as a collective force to once again flatten the curve and bring our cases under control. I know we can do this, and I believe in our people to get it done.”
Hospitalizations reached an all-time record on Tuesday, Jan. 5 statewide, with more COVID patients admitted than in April of last year.
The positivity rate, which was just over five percent for the last two weeks, forcing bars to close indoors, has now nearly doubled to over 10 percent in just one week. And average daily cases have increased exponentially from roughly 30 throughout most of the fall months more than 200, said City Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno.
“All signs are flashing red, and now is the time to take immediate action,” Dr. Avegno said. “Each and every measure we have been watching closely is indicating a major community outbreak in New Orleans. We need everyone’s cooperation to slow the spread and save lives immediately. If you can work from home, work from home. If you have a playdate, dinner party, sleepover, barbeque, visit to a relative or other gathering scheduled, please cancel it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines underway in Louisiana, but vaccines only work for those who are alive to receive them.”
The Modified Phase One will begin in Orleans Parish at 6 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 8, with the following major changes:
- Gatherings and special events will not be allowed except for people who live together in a single household.
- All indoor activities will be reduced to 25 percent of permitted occupancy.
- Indoor and outdoor sporting events will be reduced to four percent of permitted occupancy.
- Tables – at restaurants, or outdoor seating at bars or breweries – will be limited to six people and everyone must be from the same household.
For a full list of current guidelines, click here.
City officials also announced the extension of the Parklet Pilot program to promote outdoor drinking and dining options for residents as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the occupancy restrictions, the City has waived fees and expanded Outdoor Dining options for restaurants and bars.
The application fee will be waived until March 31, 2021. The City is providing water-filled barricades to parklet applicants on a first come, first served basis. About 40 grants for up to $2,000 for restaurants to parklet renovations expenses are available. The second round of grants began Monday, Nov. 2. The design guidelines, the permit application, and the grant information can all be found at nola.gov/parklet.