Louisiana Moves to Modified Version of Phase 2 Amidst Third Surge of COVID-19 Cases

Richard Easterling, Special Counsel | richard.easterling@taylorporter.com
Katie Goodson, Special Counsel | katie.goodson@taylorporter.com
Erin Sayes Kenny, Partner | erin.kenny@taylorporter.com
Mike Walsh, Partner | michael.walsh@taylorporter.com

Governor Edwards announced that effective today, Nov. 25, Louisiana will move back to a modified version of Phase Two due to a third surge of COVID-19 cases across the state. The Return to Phase Two Revised Order calls for reducing occupancy at some businesses, decreasing gathering sizes, and prohibiting indoor consumption at many bars. The Governor intends to keep the restrictions in place through the end of the year. In addition to the statewide mask mandate, which remains in place from the previous Phase Three Order, the following are key restrictions in the new Phase Two Revised Order:

  • All restaurants, cafes and coffee shops are limited to 50 percent of indoor capacity.
    • Drive-up or curbside delivery service is still allowed.
    • Buffets or other common food stations must remain closed for self-service. A restaurant that operates buffet-style may provide dine-in service if a restaurant employee is stationed at the buffet to serve customers.
    • Service and sales of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption are only allowed between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Subject to the exception outlined below, no bars (with or without a food service permit from the Louisiana Department of Health) shall allow for indoor, on-premises sales or consumption of any food or drinks. Outdoor service and consumption (table service only) is allowed, subject to a maximum seated capacity of 25 percent or 50 people, whichever is less.
    • Bars located in a parish with 5 percent positivity or less for two consecutive weeks may be open for indoor, on-premises sales and consumption (table service only), subject to a maximum seated capacity of 25 percent or 50 people, whichever is less. The parish in which a bar is located must opt-in to allow on-premises consumption.
    • All bars are allowed to provide for takeout through drive-thru or curbside delivery, including alcoholic beverages.
    • The hours of permissible operation for all bars is 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
    • No walk-up service at the bar shall be allowed at any bar.
    • No one under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages is allowed on the premises of any bar.
  • Retail businesses (other than those classified as essential businesses) are limited to 50 percent capacity.
  • Movie theaters are limited to 50 percent capacity.
  • Indoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25 percent capacity, up to 75 people.
  • Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25 percent capacity, up to 150 people when strict physical distancing is not possible.
  • All athletic events are capped at 25 percent capacity.
    • Indoor on-premises alcohol sales and consumption at athletic events are only permitted if the venue is located in a parish with 5 percent positivity or less for two consecutive weeks and the parish has opted-in for on-premises consumption.
    • Outdoor on-premises alcohol consumption and sales are permitted.
    • No alcohol sales shall occur after 11 p.m.
    • Alcohol shall not be sold to a patron not wearing a face covering.
    • A patron who purchases an alcoholic beverage must return to his ticketed seat to consume the beverage; standing and congregating in open areas is prohibited. The venue must enforce this restriction through crowd managers and signage.

The following nonessential businesses remain closed to the public:

  • Places of public amusement, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, splash pads, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, fairs and festivals, children’s play centers, indoor playgrounds theme parks, concert and music halls.
  • These businesses may submit a reopening plan with specific proposals for occupancy and sanitization to the State Fire Marshal, who is authorized to approve a reopening plan and allow for reopening. Occupancy limits authorized by the SFM must not exceed 25 percent.

Guidance from the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control

Today, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control released guidance for the Return to Phase Two Revised Order:

Drive-Thru and Curbside Services

  • All businesses, including restaurants, businesses with restaurant conditional permits and bars, may continue to offer curbside or drive-thru services of food and beverages, including beer, wine and frozen specialty drinks in sealed or factory-sealed containers. The sale of single serving or mixed alcoholic drinks is prohibited unless otherwise allowed under local ordinances.

Restaurant and Restaurant Conditional Permits

  • All restaurant (Class AR) and Restaurant Conditional permittees shall limit indoor capacity for table service to no more than 50 percent occupancy rate.
  • All indoor live entertainment remains prohibited.
  • All sale and service of alcoholic beverages must cease at 11 p.m.
  • Businesses that have been previously issued a Restaurant Conditional permit are allowed to operate under the guidelines for restaurants. (The ATC reminds these permittees that smoking is prohibited in restaurant establishments.) However, if the Restaurant Conditional permit is surrendered, the business may not reapply for a Restaurant Conditional permit and, consequently, must operate within the applicable restrictions for that business. (For example, a bar that was able to operate as a restaurant with a Restaurant Conditional permit would have to resume operating within the restrictions for bars if the permit was surrendered, and the bar could not reapply for a Restaurant Conditional permit.)

Bars (all Class AG Permits), Daiquiri Shops, Breweries and Distilleries

  • All bars, daiquiri shops or other establishments holding a Class AG permit, or breweries and distilleries operating a taproom are allowed to open and provide outdoor tableside service to a maximum of 50 patrons. Walk-up service remains prohibited. These businesses must close at 11 p.m.
  • Indoor and on-premise consumption is prohibited in all bars, daiquiri shops, breweries and distilleries with taprooms unless the business is located in a parish that has a 5 percent positivity rate or less for two consecutive weeks, where the parish has opted-in to allow on-premise consumption. The following restrictions apply to indoor service at these businesses:
    • Indoor capacity is limited to 25 percent or 50 people, whichever is less.
    • Outdoor capacity is limited to 50 people.
    • No person under the age of 21 is allowed on the premises.
    • Patrons must be seated for tableside service, and tables must be spaced in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
    • All sale and service of alcoholic beverages must cease at 11 p.m., and the business must close at 11 p.m.
    • Waiting areas shall remain closed.
    • Indoor live entertainment remains prohibited.
    • Outdoor live entertainment is allowed within SFM guidelines.
    • Bar games, including but not limited to pool, darts, shuffleboard and cornhole, are prohibited.

The Governor’s modified Return to Phase Two Revised Order can be found here.

The ATC’s Return to Phase Two Revised Guidelines can be found
here.

Updated Return to Revised Phase Two Open Safely Guidelines can be found
here.

A current list of the parishes that have been approved and opted-in for indoor on-premises consumption in bars can be found
here.

The Taylor Porter 
Alcoholic Beverage Licensing and Related Enforcement Issues Practice Group continues to monitor the legal developments pertaining to COVID-19. Please let us know how we can help you navigate licensing and compliance issues during this unprecedented time.

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