NEW ORLEANS — On Friday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell outlined for residents the Administration’s initial steps to safely and carefully reopen certain aspects of the City in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We know everyone is eager to reopen. It’s not going back to normal; it’s what we’re calling ‘the new normal.’ It will be the data and not the date that drives not only the decision but the phased approach to reopen the City of New Orleans. Today, we are outlining what those guidelines will be for the City,” said Mayor Cantrell.
Mayor Cantrell emphasized that public health and safety will continue to drive the City’s response to COVID-19. With sustained low case numbers, ramped-up testing and other key milestones, the City may begin to ease restrictions in phases. This will be done gradually, intentionally, and based on data that weighs potential benefits against the threat to our community, especially to the most vulnerable residents.
“Over the past several weeks, we have seen the number of new cases in our City trend downwards while watching our public health and healthcare systems increase capacity. While we believe we are on track to be able to start reopening parts of our economy in a few weeks, this does not mean that our lives will go back to normal as we know it. We will be focusing on opening our lowest-risk businesses while still staying at home as much as possible, maintaining proper social distancing measures, and working to protect the most vulnerable New Orleanians,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director, New Orleans Health Department.
The more residents follow safe guidelines, the faster the city as a whole can return to a sense of normalcy. Safe reopening procedures and decisions will be informed by state and federal guidance, an internal City task force, external advisory groups, and robust data analysis. (See task force and advisory groups below.)
Specific public health milestones must be met before the City will begin to ease restrictions and progress from one phase to another. If these criteria are not met or if there is a spike in cases or deaths, it may be necessary to move back to stricter measures.
- Decline in cases — Sustained trend of low and declining new cases
- Increased testing capabilities — Supplies, staffing, and lab capacity to consistently test 4% to 5% of the population each month
- Robust isolation procedures — Robust contact tracing, monitoring, and isolation capacity to rapidly isolate new cases and their close contacts
- Healthcare capacity — Healthcare system with adequate capacity to treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients without requiring surge capacity, including staffing, facilities, PPE, and equipment
The City’s phases for a safe reopening are closely aligned with those set by the State of Louisiana and the White House. Mayor Cantrell’s “Stay Home” order is in effect through at least May 15. Residents are mandated to stay home except for essential needs. When criteria are met, the City may ease restrictions and progress to the first of three phases:
Phase One will ease the Stay Home Order and ease restrictions on some low-risk operations, while implementing limits on occupancy, social distancing measures, and requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE). 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. People who can effectively work from home should continue to do so. When criteria are met, the City may ease restrictions and progress to Phase Two.
Phase Two will ease restrictions on medium risk operations, while continuing limits on occupancy, social distancing measures, and requirements for PPE. Sector-specific guidelines will be in place to ensure safe operations. Large gatherings will continue to be prohibited due to the significant risk of rapid spread through groups. High-risk residents, like seniors and people with serious medical conditions should continue to stay home. When criteria are met, the City may ease restrictions and progress to Phase Three.
Phase Three will occur with a vaccine or widespread immunity in the population. It will largely resemble pre-COVID-19 life, although some restrictions may remain necessary.
REOPENING NEW ORLEANS ADVISORY PANEL
From the outset of the Administration’s response to the outbreak, Mayor Cantrell engaged several working groups that featured residents, leaders and stakeholders to meet and provide feedback in several key topics related to the city. Mayor Cantrell has established an Advisory Panel tasked with developing a holistic approach to reopening the City. The panel will consist of co-chairs, several working groups, and industry-specific sub-committees that will provide feedback informing the overall strategy. The New Orleans Business Alliance will work with the City to convene and coordinate the work of the Advisory Panel on behalf of the Mayor.
- Mayor LaToya Cantrell, City of New Orleans
- Tanya Blunt-Haynes, Friends Salon & Spa
- Susan Brennan, Second Line Stages
- Mavis Early, Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association
- Joe Exnicios, Hancock Whitney Bank
- Vaughn Fauria, NewCorp
- Michael Fitts, Tulane University
- Trivia Frazier, Obatala Sciences
- Andy Kopplin, Greater New Orleans Foundation
- Calvin Mackie, STEM NOLA
- Alden J. McDonald Jr., Liberty Bank and Trust
- Rick Tallant, Shell Oil
- Warner Thomas, Ochsner Health System
- Greg Tillery, We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp
Working Groups Topics
- Current state of the economy
- Industry-wide projections
- Immediate reopening and longer-term plan
- Public Health
- Studying the current state of public health
- Coordinate with internal task force regarding public health guidelines
- Develop recommendations for a mental health and trauma plan
- Reestablishment of employment in the existing job sector and new and emerging job growth opportunities for the unemployed
- Education and training for unemployed workers
- Logistical support for childcare and transportation
- Employee and employer workforce counseling
- The immediate post-stay at home eviction process
- Housing insecurity of the newly unemployed
- Longer term post-COVD-19 housing strategy
- Community Services
- Youth services
- Food security