Governor: Louisiana will move into Phase Two on Friday

Gov. John Bel Edwards said at his Monday press conference that he has decided to move Louisiana into Phase Two of federal COVID-19 guidelines Friday, opening the door for more economic activity.

The most visible sign will be a relaxation of the occupancy restrictions for many businesses, moving from 25% to 50% of capacity as determined by the State Fire Marshal's Office. Assistant Department of Health Secretary Alex Billioux announced the new limits on Monday.

The goal is still to stay 6 feet away from other people, Billioux said.

Affected businesses and other entities affected by the new rules include churches, grandstands at solo and noncontact sports, playgrounds, barbers and hair salons, museums, aquariums, zoos, gyms and fitness centers, restaurants, coffee shops and cafes, bars with Department of Health food permits, theaters, casinos, video poker and racetracks (not open to spectators).

New categories will be added to the list of businesses that can open: bars without food permits, day spas, tattoo shops, massage shops, estheticians, swimming pools, bowling, skating and event centers. They are also subject to social distancing rules and capacity limits.

Edwards said Louisiana continues to show progress in combating COVID-19. The new one-day death total of four reported Monday is the lowest since March 22. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped to 661 Monday, the lowest level since March 25.

Louisiana met its goal of 200,000 COVID tests in May, administering 206,858 last month.

The state is meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standard of less than 10% positives in new tests, Edwards said.

"Louisiana is heading in the right direction," Edwards said, "but I have to caveat that by saying there's a lot of COVID in Louisiana. It's in every community of the state."

While the statewide numbers are good, there are indications that COVID cases remain at a plateau in the New Orleans, Monroe and Lake Charles areas, Billioux said. Hospitalizations are a source of concern in central Louisiana.

Here are the Phase Two guidelines from the whitehouse.gov website:

Individuals
ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. Social settings of more than 50 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, should be
avoided unless precautionary measures are observed.
NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL can resume.

Employers
Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK, whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce moderate social distancing protocols.
NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL can resume.
Strongly consider SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS for personnel who are members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION.

Specific types of employers
SCHOOLS AND ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITIES (e.g., daycare, camp) can reopen.
VISITS TO SENIOR CARE FACILITIES AND HOSPITALS should be prohibited. Those who do interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene.
LARGE VENUES (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under moderate physical distancing protocols.
ELECTIVE SURGERIES can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient and in-patient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines.
GYMS can remain open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.
BARS may operate with diminished standing-room occupancy, where applicable and appropriate.

ST. MARY NOW & FRANKLIN BANNER-TRIBUNE

Franklin Banner-Tribune
P.O. Box 566, Franklin, LA 70538
Phone: 337-828-3706
Fax: 337-828-2874

Morgan City Daily Review
P.O. Box 948, Morgan City, LA 70381
Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255