Most Louisiana bars to be forced to close

Most Louisiana bars to be forced to close
WAFB file photo of a bar (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Many bars across Louisiana will be forced to close effective tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 25 until after Christmas.

The closures will come as a result of tighter new restrictions announced by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Tuesday, Nov. 24.

There were 3,266 new COVID-19 cases and 39 additional deaths reported in the state overnight.

“It is imperative that we take action and take action now,” Gov. Edwards said.

Under the new restrictions, bars that do not have a restaurant conditional permit will be restricted to outdoor consumption only.

That will essentially force most bars to close since many do not have sufficient outdoor capacity.

The restrictions will apply to bars that are located in parishes that have COVID infection rates above 5% or more.

The governor’s new order will allow the affected bars to operate an outdoor seating area of less than 50 customers.

Previously, if a bar was forced to close because of high positivity rates in a parish, they were allowed to reopen if that rate dropped again. That will not be the case this time. Once a bar is forced to close, it must remain closed until the end of the governor’s order.

Bars that have a restaurant permit can operate at 50% capacity. There are currently 372 of those statewide.

The tighter guidelines are part of a “revised Plan 2” that the governor outlined in a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

“It is very clear that Louisiana, like much of the rest of the country, is experiencing a third surge of COVID-19,” Gov. Edwards said Tuesday afternoon.

The governor said the state will be “taking a step back” to a “revised Phase 2” which includes the new restrictions on bars and lounges. The Advocate newspaper reported Tuesday that only a handful of parishes including Orleans, Plaquemines and some rural parishes still have low enough positivity rates to keep indoor bars open

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