By Baptist Message staff
BATON ROUGE, La. (LBM) – With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines widely accessible and a continued reduction in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday, April 27, the end to the state’s mask mandate.
While masks still will be required at colleges and universities, early childhood education centers, healthcare facilities, on public transit and most state government buildings, local leaders and business owners will now be able to set their own mask policies starting today, April 28. Social distancing still is recommended.
“Many Louisianans have been wearing masks for more than a year now and the statewide mask mandate has been in place for nearly 10 months,” said Edwards, who has kept a mask mandate in place since July 2020. “We know masks work – the science is clear and we’ve seen the positive impact in our own state.
“It’s intuitive for people to protect themselves with masks in higher risk situations, and this important mitigation measure should continue,” he continued. “But we have many more tools for slowing the spread of COVID than we did not have even a few months ago, including better treatments and, most importantly, several highly effective and safe vaccines.”
In addition to lifting the mask mandate, Edwards announced on Tuesday that theaters, event spaces, festivals, fairs and other outdoor events will have no limitations on capacity. Those facilities that operate indoors may choose to operate at 75 percent capacity while enforcing the six-foot social distancing standard, or at 100 percent capacity with masking required and enforced.
For sporting events, the capacity for outdoor events is not limited but inside a venue it is 75 percent with social distancing, or 100 percent if wearing a mask.
New regulations for live music will require 10 feet of space between the stage and the audience and crowds must be seated. Bars will still only be open to those 21 and older.
While the mask mandate will remain in place for all state agencies in Edwards’ cabinet, other state-owned buildings may opt out by informing the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and people entering the building that a mask is not mandatory.
Edwards noted that even though he has lifted the mask mandate, Louisianans still are encouraged to wear masks in public.
“I want to be clear,” he said. “This is not the end of wearing masks in public, as COVID-19 and the spread of variants are still a real threat in our communities. Louisianans should respect each other and businesses and places where masks will be required as we move into a new phase of slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. I will continue to wear a mask in government buildings and in public, especially when I do not know if someone around me has been vaccinated, and I encourage everyone to do this as well.”
Click here to read the Governor’s executive order. Additional details for businesses about COVID-safe operations are posted on OpenSafely.la.gov.