Louisiana Statewide Mask Mandate Lifted, Placing Business Owners in Control of Mask Policies

Occupancy restrictions eased on hospitality, event industry

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

Click here to read Governor’s new executive order

On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate has been lifted, with some exceptions,[1] following months of sustained improvement in COVID hospitalizations and an increase in the supply and availability of vaccines. Under the Governor’s new public health order, mask policies in Louisiana will now be set by local leaders and business owners, though social distancing and masking in public are still recommended by both the State of Louisiana and the CDC.[2]

Gov. Edwards’ order lifts all outdoor capacity restrictions and allows for businesses to open their waiting areas and lobbies to patrons, while maintaining social distancing. Most businesses and facilities may now operate with 100 percent indoor capacity. The order, and corresponding Open Safely guidelines from the State Fire Marshal,[3] further outline these loosened mitigation measures for businesses in the retail and hospitality industry:

  • Restaurants, Cafes and Coffee Shops may resume normal operation of buffets or other common food stations, if social distancing is maintained between patrons while at the buffet. The business must provide markers identifying six feet of separation at the buffet line.
    • Bar areas and bar counters shall be used for seating/serving purposes only and shall not allow for social gatherings. Service may include food or drink.
       
  • Stadiums, sports complexes, or arenas hosting any athletic event may choose to operate at 75 percent indoor capacity while enforcing six feet of social distancing OR at 100 indoor percent capacity with masking required and enforced.
    • Alcohol sales are permitted at athletic events, but all patrons purchasing an alcoholic beverage shall be required to return to their ticketed seats for consumption and shall not be allowed to stand or congregate in open areas to consume alcohol. Crowd managers and signage shall be used to enforce these requirements.
       
  • Event Centers, reception halls, theaters, conventions and conferences may choose to operate at 75 percent indoor capacity while enforcing six feet of social distancing OR at 100 indoor percent capacity with masking required and enforced.
     
  • Bars may operate at full capacity, subject to the following:
    • No one under the age of 21 shall be allowed on the premises.
    • All patrons must be seated at tables, and seating must be socially distanced.
    • Walk-up service at the bar may resume, but patrons must return to their table for consumption.
    • Bar games are allowed, but players actively taking their turn should not be in possession of food or beverage, and no beverage service should be provided to anyone actively playing.
       
  • Indoor Live Entertainment Venues that host live music (including but not limited to singing and windblown instruments) must maintain a minimum of 10 feet of separation between the performers and the audience. The performance area should not be above attendees (i.e., indoor balconies).
     
  • All fairs and festivals must submit a plan for approval to the State Fire Marshal.

The State Fire Marshal has posted updated guidelines for businesses, facilities and events at OpenSafely.la.gov.

New Orleans Announces New Modified Phase Three Guidelines

Following the Governor’s announcement on Tuesday, the City of New Orleans advised that its current Modified Phase Three guidelines would remain in place while city leaders reviewed federal and state changes. Today, the city released new Modified Phase Three guidelines:

Mask Requirements

  • Masks are required in public.
  • Masks are not required when engaged in outdoor personal exercise, athletic competition, or when actively eating or drinking.

Gathering Sizes

  • Indoor gatherings are limited to 250 individuals.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 500 individuals.
  • All gatherings require masking and social distancing.

Live Entertainment and Special Events

  • Live Entertainment may be performed at bars, concert halls, music halls, live performance venues and event venues, subject to capacity limitations.
  • All venues must obtain a Special Event Permit or Certificate of Registration to allow live entertainment.

Alcoholic Beverages

  • Restaurants, bars, breweries and event venues may serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption and to-go between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.
  • Packaged liquor may only be sold in the French Quarter and Central Business District between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.

Event Venues

  • Events are limited to timed, seated events.
  • No buffets or dancing are allowed.

Outdoor Events, Amusement Parks, Festivals and Fairs

  • May operate at 50 percent capacity, up to 250 patrons.
  • The event must be fenced-in or within a contained area.
  • The event must cease operation at 11 p.m. and all attendees must depart the venue.

Recreation Spaces and Sports Complexes

  • Outdoor venues may operate at 50 percent of standing capacity.
  • Indoor venues may operate at 25 percent of standing capacity.

The following are allowed to open at 100 percent capacity, with distancing and masks required:

  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Concert Halls
  • Conference Venues and Meeting Rooms
  • Movie Theaters
  • Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
  • Restaurants
  • Retail Stores
  • Salons, Barber Shops and Tanning Salons
  • Swimming Pools
  • Tattoo, Massage and Esthetician Services

The Taylor Porter Alcoholic Beverage Licensing and Related Enforcement Issues Practice Group continues to monitor the legal developments pertaining to COVID-19.

FOOTNOTES

  • [1] Masks will still be required on public transit and in state government buildings, K-12 schools, early childhood education centers, colleges and universities, and healthcare facilities.
  • [2] The Louisiana Department of Health recommends that the public follow the “Two out of Three” rule to determine whether to wear a mask for a certain activity. Under this approach, the activity should meet two out of the three conditions: outdoor, distanced and masked.
  • [3] The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) has not released any guidelines in conjunction with the new order, as of the date of this article.

 

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