Louisiana Moves Into Phase One; New Openings and Additional Guidelines for Hospitality Industry

By the Alcoholic Beverage Licensing and Related Enforcement Issues Practice Group

Please note this article and these rules are current as of May 15, 2020, and may be subject to change.

Effective May 15, 2020, the Louisiana Stay At Home Order is lifted, and the state will enter Phase One: Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana (the “Phase One Order”). The Phase One Order adopts every major recommendation of Phase One of the White House plan and includes the following parameters for business operations:

Essential Businesses under the third phase of federal CISA guidance that have been allowed to operate under the previous Stay At Home Order may still be open.

The following Nonessential Businesses shall remain closed to the public and members:

  • All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, fairs, pool halls, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, concert and music halls, adult entertainment venues, bowling alleys, bars without a Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) food service permit, and other similar businesses; and
  • Certain personal care and grooming businesses including massage establishments, tattoo parlors, and other similar businesses.

These businesses shall not be prohibited from conducting necessary activities such as payroll, cleaning services, maintenance, or upkeep, as necessary.

Nonessential Businesses that have been allowed to operate under the previous Stay At Home Order may remain open now with 25 percent occupancy, and the following new types of Nonessential Businesses may open to the public with 25 percent occupancy unless otherwise specified:

  • Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops
    • Restaurants may continue to offer curbside or to-go services.
    • May resume table service of food and alcoholic beverages subject to indoor seating capacity of no more than 25 percent.
    • May continue to conduct outdoor service, without the 25 percent indoor occupancy limitation, as long as strict social distancing is practiced.
    • Buffets and other common food stations must remain closed.
    • Waiting areas must remain closed. Customers should be required to make reservations or to wait outside while maintaining social distancing.
  • Bars and breweries (with LDH food service permits)
    • Subject to the same requirements and restrictions as restaurants, cafes and coffee shops.
  • Shopping malls (**NOTE: In Orleans Parish, stores within malls with no exterior entrances must remain closed.)
    • Occupancy is limited to 25 percent. This applies to the shopping mall and to each and any store or business establishment within the shopping mall.
    • A reopen plan must be approved by the SFM before reopening.
  • All common areas or locations where the public may congregate must remain closed.
  • Movie theaters
  • Casinos, racetracks and video poker (**NOTE: Casinos and video poker in Orleans Parish must remain closed.)
    • No more than 50 percent of gaming positions may be in use at any one time, and all utilized gaming positions must be at least six feet apart with no two adjoining gaming positions in use at the same time.
    • Casinos and video poker establishments must have approved reopening plans from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board prior to reopening.
    • Racetracks must have approved reopening plans from the Louisiana Racing Commission prior to reopening.
    • Lobbies and other areas where members of the public may congregate shall be closed to the public.
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Barber shops and hair and nail salons

All employees and owners of open Nonessential Businesses must maintain social distancing between themselves and members of the public and wear face coverings when interacting with the public.

“Open Safely” Guidance from the Louisiana State Fire Marshal for Nonessential Businesses

Additionally, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal (SFM), in conjunction with the Office of the Governor and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has published Phasing Plans with requirements and restrictions for certain Nonessential Businesses. Business owners can register at to receive this guidance. Registering for the Open Safely site is not required in order to reopen, but it is encouraged. The guidance includes (but is not limited to) the following:

Restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and bars & micro-breweries with LDH food service permits

  • Maintain 25 percent occupancy based on:
    • One person per 60 square feet; OR
    • 25 percent of the posted capacity of the SFM.
  • The 25 percent maximum building capacity during Phase One should be applied to the individual room, not just the overall facilities.
  • Where movement or seating between tables is not necessary, tables must be placed a minimum of 6 feet apart (measured from all edges of table).
  • Where movement between tables is necessary, or where one person is seated between tables, tables must be placed a minimum of 8 feet apart from table edges.
  • Where persons are seated at each table back to back, tables must be placed a minimum of 10 feet apart from the edges.
  • Booth seating can be utilized if separated by partitions with a height that exceeds the height of an average patron’s head. If not, they are subject to the spacing provided above regarding tables.
  • Table capacity is limited to 10 individuals
  • Gatherings in the building while entering, exiting, or moving about should be avoided.
  • Kitchen and employee area capacity shall be reduced to allow for 6 foot distancing between employees.
  • Limitations and guidance previous established in SFM Interpretive Memorandum 2020-23 regarding restaurant outdoor dining areas remain effective throughout Phase One.

Movie Theaters (**NOTE: Orleans Parish has limited movie theater capacity to 25 percent of permitted occupancy or 100 people, whichever is fewer.)

  • Maintain 25 percent occupancy based on:
    • One person per every four seats provided; OR
    • 25 percent of the posted capacity of the SFM.
  • Seating shall be assigned so that a minimum of 6 feet distance between individuals and small groups is maintained.
  • Group seating shall be limited to 10 people and should be limited to persons who are members of the same household.
  • Avoid assigned seating within 6 feet of aisles to allow for circulation.
  • Reduce employee area capacity to allow for 6 foot distancing between employees.
  • Prohibit physical contact between employees and customers.
  • Prohibit interior waiting areas. Waiting may be provided outside of a facility while following social distancing guidelines or persons shall wait in cars.
  • Eliminate gatherings in the building while entering, exiting, purchasing tickets, or moving about.
  • Counter concessions and seated food service is allowed, subject to the Open Safely guidance provided for restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops.

Also included in the Open Safely guidelines are checklists for management and staff to follow as well as face covering guidance, steps for cleaning, and a sample seating layout.

The SFM and LDH will continue to issue guidance to different types of businesses about Phase One, in order to ensure that businesses can safely operate to the maximum level allowed in Phase One.

Louisiana ATC Phase One Guidelines for Alcohol Permit Holders

On May 14, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (“state ATC”) published Phase One guidelines for all permit holders, including specific guidelines for restaurants, conditional restaurants, and cafes; bars and breweries with LDH food certificates; special events; and Responsible Vendor classes.

Guidelines for all ATC permit holders

  • Alcohol delivery may only be conducted in accordance with the law and only by businesses holding a valid alcohol delivery permit.
  • The ATC delivery guidance issued on March 17 (regarding temporary alcohol delivery permits) remains in full effect until further notice.
    • The ATC has further clarified that temporary delivery permits are still being issued and will be set to expire on May 31. Temporary delivery permits may be converted to an annual permit with the submission of additional fees.
  • The ATC has also confirmed that retailers may continue to purchase wine and liquor from authorized wholesalers with credit card until further notice.

Guidelines for Restaurants

  • Tableside service of food and alcoholic beverages direct to patrons may resume.
  • Live entertainment may be offered, but only outside, while also implementing strict social distancing protocols set forth under SFM guidelines. Entertainers are included in the 25 percent occupancy capacity.
  • Curbside or to-go services of food and sealed containers of beer, wine, and frozen specialty drinks may continue. The sale of mixed cocktails to-go is prohibited.

Guidelines for bars and breweries with LDH food certificates

  • These businesses may resume the service of food and alcoholic beverages under the same restrictions imposed on restaurants.
  • Live entertainment may be offered outside and subject to SFM occupancy requirements and social distancing guidelines.
  • Notification to ATC is not required to reopen.
  • Bars remain subject to age restrictions and any other restrictions imposed by law. Alternatively, bars that meet the definition of a restaurant establishment may submit an application for a conditional restaurant permit.
  • ATC Counsel confirmed that breweries, micro-breweries, and distilleries that have an LDH food safety certificate issued to the premise may reopen under the same guidelines as restaurants.

Guidelines for special events

  • Applicants for special events permits shall be required to submit proof of a local permit.
  • Occupancy within special event venues must be reduced to a 25 percent occupancy rate.
  • Events scheduled outside must comply SFM and LDH guidelines and comply with social distancing protocols and facial covering.

Responsible Vendor

  • In-person responsible vendor classes may resume.
  • Classroom sizes must be limited to no more than 25 percent occupancy capacity rate per location.
  • Occupancy capacity includes trainers, students, and any person involved with the class.

The full ATC Notice and Open Safely guidelines can be found here.

State ATC offices will reopen to the public under Phase One Order

Under the Governor’s new Phase One Order, state buildings will begin to open to the public on May 15 at 25 percent occupancy, and state agencies are directed to continue to bring more state employees back to work in person, with proper distancing and protections in place. In accordance with this order, the state ATC has confirmed:

  • ATC offices will reopen on Monday, May 18
  • ATC will accept filings in person but recommends filings via mail (or renewals online), until further notice.
  • Payment options may also be made in person but can still be made by mailing a check or using a credit card by phone with an authorized ATC staff member.

Additional informational resources

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 in any way to answer your questions about your operations may be impacted.