By Baptist Message staff
BATON ROUGE, La. (LBM) – Louisiana, which has been in Phase 2 of reopening the state’s economy since Nov. 25, will move into the next phase on March 3.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, during a news conference March 2, said while the mask mandate will remain in place and social distancing encouraged, churches will be allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity and restaurants, malls and most other businesses can accommodate customers at 75 percent capacity. The new order will remain in effect until it expires at the end of the month.
Sporting venues can hold 50 percent capacity, and gatherings at indoor centers should not exceed 50 percent occupancy, up to 250 people. Conventions, conferences, fairs and festivals also may operate at up to 50 percent capacity.
Bars in all parishes will be authorized to open for indoor service up to 25 percent capacity, and at 50 percent if a parish has a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower for two consecutive weeks.
“We are currently moving in the right direction and have been for several weeks now,” Edwards said. “And certainly, we are all gratified for that.”
The news comes a day after the state surpassed 1 million administered doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. The LDH reported 770 new COVID-19 cases on March 2, bringing the statewide total to 431,271, and an additional 19 deaths, bringing the total statewide to 9,647.
COVID-19 hospitalizations also remained on a steady decline — down from a peak of more than 2,000 in early January to 629 on Tuesday.
Edwards urged Louisianans to continue wearing masks, adhere to proper social distancing measures and take the vaccine.
“While we are doing better and while we are easing restrictions, no one should think we are out of the woods,” he said. “The mitigation measures remain important.”