Phase 3 allows Louisiana bars to reopen, with conditions

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Friday afternoon laid out the specifics of how Phase Three of relaxing coronavirus restrictions will work.

Most notably, bars, closed since mid-July, will be allowed to reopen. But they will be subject to several restrictions.

First, they have to be in parishes that have no more than five percent of tests coming back positive over a two-week period. And unlike other businesses that will be allowed to go to 75 percent of their maximum occupancy, bars will be capped at 25 percent, or 50 patrons, whichever is fewer.

"Bars will be able to open at 25 percent capacity, up to 50 people total indoors," said Edwards. "Customers will have to be seated for tableside service only. In addition, they may have no more than 50 customers outdoors."

Health officials say bars were the most common places for community spread that drove the state's coronavirus numbers up in June and July, after they were allowed to reopen in Phase 2. The spike caused Edwards in mid-July to order bars to close.

No bars will be allowed to serve alcohol after 10:00 p.m., and customers must be out the door by 11:00 p.m. And parishes will have the final say on whether or not bars can open.

Phase Three comes with other restrictions on alcohol. Restaurants and casinos will also be required to cease alcoholic beverage sales at 10:00 p.m., and sports venues that are allowed to reopen will be dry -- no alcohol sales at all.

Most other businesses that are operating at 50 percent capacity will be allowed to expand to 75 percent, but social distancing must be observed, and masks must be worn. Casinos will remain at 50 percent of their maximum occupancy, and no more than 75 percent of their gaming tables or machines.