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Gov. Edwards: Louisiana Can Begin Reopening May 15

Paul Braun
Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at a press conference May 11, 2020.

Louisiana can begin Phase One of reopening on Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced at a Monday press conference. 

Edwards’ decision to lift his stay-at-home mandate was based on the state’s ability to meet several criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data from the Louisiana Department of Health shows a two-week decline in COVID-19 cases. The state has successfully increased its testing capacity to 200,000 per month, and  increased its staffing for contact tracing. And hospitals are equipped with a sufficient supply of PPE and ICU units in the event of a surge in cases.

“The people of Louisiana have worked really hard to slow the spread of COVID-19. They complied with the stay-at-home order. Had they not, we would not have the progress that we have seen," Edwards said.

The first phase of reopening allows some businesses to resume operations at a limited capacity. Hair and nail salons, gyms, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, casinos, churches, museums, zoos, aquariums, and bars with a food permit can open for business but must practice 6-foot-spacing and restrict capacity to 25 percent, including staff. Employees are required to wear masks or face coverings. 
Spas, massage and tattoo parlors, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, fairs, bars without a food permit, pool halls, contact sports, playgrounds, theme parks, adult entertainment venues must remain closed.

Businesses are encouraged to register for reopening on the state’s website, opensafely.la.gov, to receive industry-specific information and updates.

Edwards said Phase One will help put people back to work, but he warned that the coronavirus is still a public health crisis in Louisiana.

“We are not declaring victory. This is not mission accomplished,” he said.

State health officials will continue to monitor the number of positive cases and make recommendations accordingly.

Governor Edwards will make an announcement on June 1 about whether he will extend Phase One beyond June 5.

Betsy Shepherd covers environmental news and is producing a podcast on the Civil Rights Movement in small-town Louisiana. She won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for a feature she reported on Louisiana’s 2016 floods.

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