As of May 16, 2020, New Orleans entered into Phase One of the city’s reopening plan, with public health and safety at the core of the response. Phase One eases restrictions on some low-risk operations, while implementing limits on occupancy, social distancing measures, and requirements for personal protective equipment.
While understanding the details of the plan is important, we’ve broken down some of the most frequently asked questions in regard to experiencing New Orleans during Phase One.
What is Phase One?
Phase One: Safest At Home, is the first phase following The City of New Orleans' Stay-At-Home mandate. Phases for a safe reopening are closely aligned with those set by the State of Louisiana and the White House. It begins May 16 at 6 a.m.
Highlights of Phase One include:
- Every person must wear a mask or face covering while in public, unless you are performing outdoor recreation.
- Maintain social distancing guidelines.
- All gatherings are limited to a reasonable household size.
- Practice social distancing, wash hands often, and frequently disinfect surfaces.
- Stay home if you are sick.
What Types of Businesses Are Open?
Some low-risk operations will be allowed to re-open at 25% permitted occupancy, including the following:
- Retail stores and shopping malls
- Restaurants, cafés, and bars with food permits (with reservations at restaurants strongly encouraged)
- Beauty salons, barber shops, and nail salons (by appointment only)
- Movie theaters (occupancy in Orleans Parish is 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
- Museums, zoos, and aquariums (by reservation only and with no tactile exhibits)
- Houses of worship (occupancy in Orleans Parish is 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
- Gyms and fitness centers (no group classes or contact sports)
Outdoor recreation spaces, including parks, playgrounds, and sports complexes, are permitted to open following social distancing guidelines.
What Types of Businesses Are Closed?
The following operations remain closed during Phase One:
- Casinos and video poker
- Spas, tattoo, and massage establishments
- Live entertainment, amusement, and event venues
- Children’s museums
- Bars without food permits
- Private gatherings with more than a reasonable household size
What Can I Expect While Dining in a Restaurant?
While planning to dine in at a New Orleans restaurant, it’s encouraged that you make a reservation in advance, especially since indoor seating is limited to 25% of the restaurant’s permitted occupancy, but also for contact tracing purposes. Outdoor seating is allowed while practicing social distancing. No restaurant or food establishment can serve any alcoholic beverage to a patron who is not also purchasing food.
As for the dining experience, expect strict health measures to be taken on behalf of the business to keep you safe. This includes staggering reservations, spacing out tables more than six feet apart, and wearing masks while cooking and serving food. You can do your part by wearing your mask or face covering until you get to your designated table.
Do I Need to Wear a Mask at All Times?
It is highly recommended that a mask or face covering is worn at all times while in public, unless you are exercising or seated at a table in a restaurant. Now, this will not be enforced by police, but a business has the right to refuse service if you do not adhere to this rule.
Do I Need a Reservation to Visit an Attraction or Restaurant?
For dining in restaurants within Orleans Parish, a reservation is strongly recommended. If you don’t have a reservation and are planning on dining in a restaurant, whether outdoor or indoor, be prepared to provide contact information (name and phone number) for contact tracing purposes.
As for visits to museums, zoos, aquariums, and other indoor cultural attractions, admission will be staggered using an online reservation system. Call or visit the attraction’s website to book your reservation in advance.
What Safety Precautions are Attractions Taking?
All businesses and institutions must register with the Louisiana State Fire Marshal to receive sector-specific guidelines for reopening and a certificate of Acknowledgement of Registration, which will be posted and visible on all entrances. This certificate is a physical reminder to visitors that these businesses are following all government guidelines for increased sanitation and safety practices, including personal protective equipment for employees and detailed cleaning protocols.
What About Public Gatherings?
According to city government, gatherings are limited to a reasonable household size, both private and public. Limit the number of people with whom you regularly come into contact to a small and consistent "crew."
How Long Will Phase One Last?
In Orleans Parish, there is no set end date for Phase One. The number of cases, hospitalizations, and public health capacity over the next few weeks will determine whether or not we can enter into Phase Two.
For a look at what restaurants, attractions, and businesses are open in New Orleans, see here.For more information on what’s open and in what capacity, and for the full Phase One reopening plan, see ready.nola.gov.