Watch: Mayor Cantrell and Dr. Avegno give COVID-19, Phase 2 update

Coronavirus

NEW ORLEANS – On Tuesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell updated residents on the guidelines for Phase Two of the safe reopening of the city as part of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phase Two will go into effect on Saturday, June 13, at 6 a.m.

“We are ready to move to the next phase of our safe reopening thanks to the tireless efforts of our public health and safety workers and the diligence and patience of our residents. We have practically gone from worst to first in responding to this pandemic, flattening the curve, and ramping up our testing and other efforts,” said Mayor Cantrell.

“In many ways, our Phase Two guidelines will look similar to those implemented last week by the State, with some subtle but key differences,” Mayor Cantrell added.“I want to be very clear: We are NOT out of the woods yet, and how we respond in Phase Two will be pivotal for our City’s recovery.”

“As the City enters into Phase Two, we want to remind residents not to ease up on those preventative health measures that have safely gotten us this far into reopening. Please continue to wear masks/facial coverings, practice safe social distancing and remember that high risk individuals with underlying medical conditions are still safest at home,” said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. “The New Orleans Health Department continues to mobilize COVID-19 testing sites throughout the city with a focus on our returning workers and those with challenges to accessing care. I encourage everyone to get tested as we continue to flatten the curve and protect the public health and safety of our residents.”

“We’re proud to be supporting the logistical needs of the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Collin Arnold, Director, New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “This administration leaned in immediately to provide both testing and PPE to residents and that will continue throughout Phase Two. To date, we’ve tested over 13 percent of residents and we’ve provided over 200,000 cloth masks to community members.”

Last week, the State moved to Phase One of reopening. Based on the science and the data from local and national health officials, the City of New Orleans was required to wait a bit longer; the different timeline was mainly based on New Orleans being hit disproportionately hard and fast in the initial outbreak.

To move into Phase Two, the City had to ensure that it was hitting all the appropriate milestones, ensuring that:

  • Testing is happening and sustainable
  • Healthcare capacity is available and keeping up with need
  • The City is not experiencing dramatic spikes or turnarounds; and
  • Contact tracing is in place

As in Phase One, all residents must continue to practice physical distancing at least six feet apart; wear a face covering in public; adhere to strict hygiene and sanitation protocols; and remain home if elderly or have high risk medical conditions.

New Orleans is now a national leader in testing and serves as a model for how to flatten the curve. Over 13% of the population has been tested, at an average of more than 700 tests per day, and which has resulted in a  positive test rate below 3%.

In Phase Two, there will be increased testing focus on:

  • Nursing homes & shelters
  • Essential workers
  • Hospitality industry workers
  • Hotspots and high-risk areas

Phase Two will ease restrictions on medium-risk operations, while continuing limits on occupancy, social distancing measures, and requirements for personal protective equipment. Sector-specific guidelines will be in place to ensure safe operations. High-risk residents, like seniors and people with serious medical conditions, should continue to stay home. Everyone should wear masks/face coverings while performing non-outdoor recreation public activities. All businesses will still be required to register with the State Fire Marshal’s Office via opensafely.la.gov.

The following guidelines are in line with the State’s Phase Two guidelines:

Operations opening at 50% capacity with distancing:

  • Restaurants & Bars with food
  • Gyms/Fitness Centers
  • Barbers & Hair Salons
  • Salons, Spas, Tattoo Parlors
  • Retail & Malls
  • Aquariums, Zoos, and Museums
  • Community Centers
  • Conference/Meeting Rooms

Opening at 25% capacity with distancing:

  • Bars without food permits
  • Outdoor pools

Operations that will remain closed and prohibited:

  • Indoor live entertainment
  • Festivals and Fairs
  • Amusement parks and Arcades
  • Music and Concert Halls

City Hall will ease some of the physical restrictions and open to the public at limited capacity. Individual departments and agencies will determine their guidelines.

As in Phase One, there are some guidelines that will differ from the State:

  • Houses of Worship and Movie Theaters will open at 50% capacity or 250 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Gaming establishments (casinos, video poker) can open at 25% capacity
  • Gatherings and event venues will be limited to 100 people with 1 crowd control officer per 50 people. (This is for indoor and outdoor event venues.)
  • Special event permits will be required for some locations and events

(Some operations are required to use a reservation system or to stagger admission. This is not different from Phase One, but it is different from the State.)

More restrictive gathering sizes now (and steady future increases) will help us feel confident about safety of the city for residents and visitors. This reduces the likelihood of having to “snap back” to a more restrictive phase (as has happened in other countries). The City is hopeful that these guidelines will allow us to move forward, cautiously, into the next part of our phased reopening.

Residents and businesses will be expected to follow these guidelines as they have been during the Stay Home mandate and through Phase One. The City will be closely following the data for the next three weeks; this will determine the next steps.

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