New Orleans’ bars can once again serve indoors at 25 percent capacity beginning at 6 a.m. Friday, the city announced Wednesday evening.
Bars will be allowed to serve indoors as long as the COVID-19 test percent positivity rate for Orleans Parish does not exceed 5 percent for two consecutive weeks.
Bars have been restricted from providing indoor service since Dec. 30, when the city’s percent positivity rate rose above 5 percent and remained high for two consecutive weeks, triggering a state-mandated ban. As the percent positivity rate continued to rise after the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays, the city reverted to Modified Phase 1, with strong restrictions on gatherings of any kind.
But even as the rate lowered and the city moved into Modified Phase 2, the ban on indoor service at bars remained in place as an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. A week before the holiday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that bars would be completely closed — no indoor, outdoor or to-go service — until after Fat Tuesday.
New Orleans reached a percent positivity rate of 2.1 percent last week — a low it has not seen since November.