Stay home extended to May 15
Hopes for an April 30 end to Governor John Bel Edwards’ “Stay at Home” order were dashed Monday when the governor announced that the order would be extended to May 15.
Edwards said the extension was necessary to “continue to slow the spread of COVID-19” as Louisiana does not currently meet the White House criteria for entering Phase One of reopening.
The White House criteria calls for declining numbers of new cases and hospitalizations, among other things.
“While Louisiana has seen positive, improving trends statewide in terms of new case growth and new hospitalizations,” the governor said, “in several regions across the state, new cases and hospitalizations continue to increase or to plateau.”
Data shows that while overall new cases and hospitalizations have decreased, that is not the case in several regions. In the Baton Rouge and Monroe regions, both new cases and new hospitalizations have increased while some increases are also being seen in terms of new cases in Acadiana and a plateau for hospitalizations in southwest Louisiana and a plateau of new cases on the Northshore.
Under the extended order, businesses that are being directed to remain closed include salons, barber shops, bars and casinos, among other things. Non-essential retail businesses continue to be able to open with fewer than 10 people total inside.
Major changes in the new Stay at Home order include:
•Malls will remain closed, but stores may open for curb side delivery.
•Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without table side service.
•All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.
Officials are also strongly urging everyone to wear masks when in public.
Edwards said he is hopeful Louisiana will be able to move on May 15 to Phase 1 which lifts the Stay at Home order and eases restrictions on some public spaces like houses of worship and restaurants and opens other businesses that have been closed such as barber shops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks while limiting occupancy for these businesses to 25 percent.
Parish President Chester Cedars had not yet issued a statement in reaction to the governor’s extension of the Stay at Home order when the Teche News went to press Tuesday.
But Cedars has formed an advisory committee composed of parish mayors, the presidents of all chambers of commerce and the Henderson Area Merchants Association along with SMEDA Director Jennifer Stelly to develop protocols for the eventual re-opening of parish businesses.
“In the re-opening of the business community,” Cedars said last Friday, “it will be necessary to strike a reasonable balance between public health concerns and economic considerations ...
“Of course, the idea of social distancing and limitations on gatherings must not be abandoned as we proceed with any ‘return.’ And when not engaged in an essential endeavor such as work, obtaining medicine and/or groceries, and taking care of family, we should stay at home.”