New Orleans will remain in 'phase 1' while state moves on

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While Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced Louisiana will move into phase two of reopening businesses and various facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell says the city will remain in phase one.

"We know, based on the data, that we are not ready to move from phase one to phase two," Cantrell said today, but she hinted some restrictions may be relaxed.

"We can loosen restrictions without moving into phase two," said Cantrell, "so that's what we're looking at right now."

Cantrell didn't specify what restrictions could be eased, but New Orleans' phase one included several restrictions not included in the statewide guidelines. Notably, Harrah's casino and video poker of any kind has not been permitted to operate during phase one. Another difference in New Orleans is that some establishments, like churches and movie theaters, were limited to 25 percent of maximum occupancy or 100 people, whichever was fewer -- so if a church or theater had a fire safety maximum occupancy of 500 people, it would be limited to 100, rather than 125.

"All of our decisions must be grounded in science and guided by the bedrock of public health: keeping our people safe. We look forward to the return of visitors — but for that to happen, we have to be able to ensure New Orleans is the safest city to come to," said Cantrell. "That means being deliberate, and waiting until we have two to three weeks of additional data and the full confidence of our public health officials that restrictions can be further eased in a safe way."