As Louisiana loosens COVID restrictions, New Orleans stays the same
Early March 2021, Gov. John Bel Edwards rolled Louisiana, once again, into a Phase 3 of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic following a holiday surge in cases at the beginning of the year. Before New Orleans couples and wedding professionals begin to change their plans, however, it’s important to note that the city of New Orleans is not moving into a new phase just yet.
Gov. Edwards’ new guidelines still include a state-wide mask mandate, but now allows 75 percent capacity in restaurants and other businesses, live music is now allowed indoors and there are no limits for religious services. Additionally, all bars will be allowed to open with 25 percent capacity inside or 50 percent capacity in parishes with a positivity rate lower than 5 percent but will not be allowed to serve anyone alcohol after 11 p.m. each night. For larger event halls, gatherings are limited to 50 percent capacity or 250 people.
The city of New Orleans, however, will stay in its own Phase 2 until the impact of the Mardi Gras holiday can be measured. Additionally, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office said after the health department eased restrictions on gathering sizes and sporting events because of the decrease in cases, they want to see how that pans out and impacts the city’s COVID-19 numbers before changing the city’s phase.
For those planning events and wedding-related gatherings in Orleans Parish, the current modified Phase Two include a few restrictions that could make or break wedding plans. Indoor gatherings are limited to 75 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 150 people, both require masks and social distancing. Concert halls and dance clubs remain closed and second lines and parades are not allowed. The guidelines include event venue-specific limitations. Venues, reception halls and hotel ballrooms are allowed to open for gatherings, weddings or private events for up to 75 people indoors and 150 outdoors. Events are limited to timed, seated events. Buffets and dancing are not allowed, and individuals must maintain six feet of distance between each other. Service and sale of alcohol at these locations are only allowed between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Face coverings are required at all times, except while eating or drinking, and indoor live entertainment must follow the city’s guidelines, which can be found here.
Jefferson Parish’s website says it is following state and CDC suggestions and protocols. In line with the state’s announcement, Jefferson Parish allows up to 75 percent occupancy in restaurants and other businesses with gatherings at indoor event halls limited to 50 percent occupancy or up to 250 people. Bar openings and capacity are subject to the parish’s positivity percentage – which was holding at 5.8 percent in early March according to the local Fox 8 news – 25 percent open or 50 percent in those parishes below 5 percent positivity. There are no specific wedding or event-related updates or restrictions on the Jefferson Parish website currently.
Though watching the state bounce into new phases of reopening can be exciting, we urge all brides and grooms to be diligent in checking phase restrictions and following along with updates ahead of any wedding or wedding-related events.