Governor John Bel Edwards is tightening restrictions on the public to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus just hours after the second coronavirus update in as many days reflected more than 2,000 new cases. Edwards is making masks mandatory for all people over eight years old unless they have a severe medical condition. The mask mandate includes the outdoors as well. Anybody within six feet of a non-immediate household member must wear a mask, whether outdoors or inside. The restrictions will be in effect beginning one minute after midnight Monday morning.
The urgency of the situation was highlighted by a rare Saturday press conference with relatively short notice to the news media. The announcement of the 2:30 news conference was only distributed to the media at 11:49 Saturday morning.
Red River, West Feliciana, and Grant parishes are the only parishes in the state with a low rate of virus spread. According to Edwards, these parishes may decide to notify GOSHEP that they will not require the wearing of masks.
Edwards will sign a new proclamation today to put in place these new restrictions. The new restrictions also mandate that all bars will be closed to on-premises consumption. Curbside service will still be available.
In addition, inside gatherings are to be limited to 50 persons. Edwards said,” A significant contributor to the spread is informal backyard gatherings like birthdays, wedding receptions, showers, and the like. Your close neighbors and friends still can get COVID. Keep gatherings small, physically distance, hold outdoors, and wear masks.”
Louisiana is now number 3 in the country for positive cases per capita behind New York and New Jersey. Today’s increase of, 2,167 new COVID-19 cases, is the third-largest since the outbreak began in Louisiana on March 9. “Yesterday, we had our highest day ever of new cases,” Edwards said. “It’s become clear to me, especially after the number we saw yesterday, that our current restrictions are not enough.”
The governor is still set to make an announcement later in July regarding whether the state will move on to Phase 3 of economic reopening.