BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced a “step back to a revised Phase 2,” citing the state’s positivity rate and hospitalizations continue to rise amid a third wave of the pandemic.
“Because of the trajectory we’ve been on the last ten days or so, it is imperative that we take action and take action now,” said Edwards.
Louisiana moved out of Phase 2 and into Phase 3 on September 11. The governor said he expected to sign the order moving back to Phase 2 on Tuesday afternoon. It will go into effect on Friday and continue 28 days through Dec. 23. Edwards said the order will encourage all employers public and private to maximize the use of telework where possible. He said he has already instructed state agencies to do so.
Capacity at restaurants, gyms, and retail establishments will be limited to 50% capacity. Any businesses deemed essential under the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidelines for COVID-19 will be required to continue to operate safely but with no restrictions on occupancy.
Bars can be open to on-premises consumption if they have a positivity rate of 5% of lower over the last 14 days. Those with over 5% can open for outdoor on-premise consumption at 25% capacity up to 50 people seated at tables. Bar service will not be allowed and bars will have to close by 11 p.m.
Indoor gatherings that do not fall among the businesses above will be limited to 25% capacity with no more than 50 people, and outdoor sporting events will remain limited to 25% capacity.
“We are trying to do everything that we can to keep schools open, said Edwards, who added that it is a local decision whether to stay open with in-person, virtual, or hybrid approach.
He also added that just because the newly tightened restrictions are set to expire just a few days before Christmas, no one should expect them to be loosened at that point. Based on all of the information the state has gotten from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, along with scientists and other experts, “we’re in for a couple of really, really tough months in Louisiana and around the country.”
Complete details will be available at opensafely.gov.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported 3,266 new COVID-19 cases statewide and 39 more deaths Tuesday, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed and probable cases reported in the state to 224,403 and deaths to 6,323.
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After noting on Friday that hospitalizations per capita for the state have increased over the 14 days, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Louisiana passed the 1,000-mark on Sunday, reaching its highest point since August.
Louisiana remains in Phase 3 under orders extended earlier this month through December 4 as the governor and state public health officials expressed concern about the rise in cases and hospitalizations around the state.
Last week, Edwards released a video and statement urging residents to do their part to stop the spread of COVID during the holidays to ease the strain on healthcare workers and help keep hospitals across from becoming overwhelmed.