New Orleans event venues and sports arenas could accommodate more guests under relaxed public health rules that take effect Friday at 6 a.m. after weeks of declining coronavirus cases.
The current limit on the size of gatherings for parties and events, 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, will increase to 75 people indoors and 150 outdoors. Restaurants, bars, brasseries and other businesses can seat up to 15 people at a table, compared to 10 previously.
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Indoor sports stadiums will be allowed to accommodate 15% of their capacity, against 4% without special permission from the town hall, while outdoor stadiums will be able to accommodate 25%, against 10% without special permission.
The changes, announced Thursday by city hall officials, come as new cases of the virus have fallen to an average of 50 per day for the first time in months, and the share of coronavirus tests that come back positive to the New Orleans remains below 2%.
The relaxed rules also follow a Mardi Gras season that saw a shortage of tourists, a five-day ban on opening bars, the closure of popular gathering areas and the cancellation of all parades.
Tourists photograph Bourbon Street decorations on Shrove Tuesday during the coronavirus pandemic in New Orleans, Tuesday February 16, 2021. (Ph…
Thursday’s announcement was adopted by high school athletic coaches, who for months led teams through nearly empty arenas and stadiums, and by event planners who saw dissatisfied customers amid higher ceilings. strict for guests at parties and weddings.
Louis Landrum, who was heading to Strawberry Stadium in Hammond on Thursday night for the Lusher Charter School boys’ soccer team state championship game, said the school’s players would appreciate being able to see more of their families in the stands.
“What we did on our side was that we only allowed our parents. In some cases, we have cleared the parents of both teams, ”said Landrum, athletic director of Lusher. “In other cases, it was just our parents and no visiting spectators. But overall, the players are still missed by other family members and classmates. ”
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Kimberly Jones-Williams, CEO and founder of NOLA Event Planners, said the changes will make it easier for her to serve couples who, despite COVID-19, have been pushing for larger marriages.
“I have already taken a screenshot [the rules] and I sent it to my couples, ”she said. “I appreciate the mayor with this new thing because it helps me deal with the stress and chaos I’ve been in for the past year.”
The deadly coronavirus has loosened its grip on New Orleans somewhat in recent weeks, from a peak in mid-January that saw cases exceed 270 per day and led Mayor LaToya Cantrell to ban most gatherings to try to contain the spread.
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The outlook is brighter as vaccines continue to be made available to a growing number of residents, although supply issues have hampered efforts by some to get vaccinated.
The brightest image also follows Louisiana trends. The state’s share of positive COVID-19 tests fell to 5%, low enough that Gov. John Bel Edwards hinted Thursday that state restrictions, less stringent than New Orleans rules in many cases, could ease within a week.
Analysts have estimated that New Orleans, which is heavily dependent on tourism, will experience some rebound in its economy this fall, as more vaccines are expected to have been distributed and some events such as conventions, festivals and others. gatherings should return. Towards the city.
In the meantime, Cantrell has played a tricky balancing act with a series of restrictions, relaxing some piecemeal rules when the number of cases improves and tightening others when COVID-19 spreads rapidly in certain areas, especially businesses such as bars which are known to be havens for the virus.
Jones-Williams, who is also a nurse, said she was uncomfortable seeing capacity limits increase much more than they will on Friday, despite the hard knocks her business took due to current rules.
“The culture in New Orleans is to throw a big event, play until you drop and have the best experience ever,” she said. But customers need to realize, “COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. ”
Editor’s Note, 02/26/2021: This story has been updated to clarify Louis Landrum’s position at Lusher Charter School.