Gov. Edwards announces easing of restrictions, mask mandate will remain in place
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards held a news conference about the state’s response to the coronavirus Tuesday, March 30.
Gov. Edwards announced that he will be lifting capacity limitations for many of the state’s businesses but the statewide mask mandate and social distancing protocols will remain in place.
The governor will issue a new proclamation Wednesday, March 31 that will stay in effect until April 28.
Specific capacity limitations for restaurants, bars, gyms, and retail settings will no longer be in place, he said. Bars, in particular, can stay open later than 11 p.m. as long as they adhere to local ordinances.
Bar patrons must still be seated at a socially distanced table, the governor said.
Gov. Edwards said businesses and venues that host large indoor gatherings, like reception halls, will be remain capped at 50% of their capacity, with a maximum gathering size of 500 people.
The governor’s address comes one day after all Louisiana residents 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Edwards also announced Louisiana will soon receive a larger-than-normal shipment of the vaccine, approximately 300,00 doses, from the federal government next week.
The governor also asked Louisiana residents to refrain from double booking vaccine appointments. Hospital administrators tell him double booking of vaccine appointments is becoming a problem.
Residents are asked to only make one appointment for COVID-19 vaccination so healthcare providers can be prepared and “no shows” are limited.
As of Monday, March 29, more than 720,000 residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, meaning they have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna-manufactured vaccine or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
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On a positive note, Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health announced Louisiana has reduced the number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus down to 363 patients.
“This is a big thing,” Dr. Kanter said.
He said the state is in a much better place in terms of coronavirus hospitalizations than it was weeks ago.
Louisiana is at a historic low, during the course of the pandemic, for the number of COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents, the Louisiana Department of Health also announced Tuesday. Officials say 80% of nursing home residents have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Gov. Edwards warned residents to continue to be cautious and practice mitigation measures over the next 30 days.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said.
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