Gov. John Bel Edwards today formally extended Louisiana’s Stay at Home order until May 15 as the state continues to slow the spread of COVID-19 to meet the White House threshold criteria for opening more of our economy. In recent days and weeks, Louisiana has seen a drop in new case counts and hospitalizations in some, but not all, regions of the state, though the death rate continues to be high.

More than 1,800 people in Louisiana have died from COVID-19. And while more than 17,000 people are estimated by the Louisiana Department of Health as being recovered,10,000 people in Louisiana are still sick, giving Louisiana a high disease burden. And this does not account for the thousands of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases in our state among those not tested. As of Thursday morning, Louisiana was six per capita for cases in the United States.

Click here for a copy of the order.

“My decision to extend the Stay at Home order was based on sound science and data and the recommendations of multiple public health experts and doctors as the best shot Louisiana has to protect the health of all people,” Gov. Edwards said. “We simply don’t meet the qualifications to move to Phase 1 yet, but all Louisianans should be hopeful that we will soon. Brighter days are ahead for Louisiana, and I am proud not only of our health care heroes and frontline essential workers, but also of our people who have shown extreme strength during this tough time and have largely abided by the Stay at Home order. We will get through this together and resume the celebrations we have had to put on hold when we are able to come together again safely."

“Let me be clear – many businesses in Louisiana are allowed to open and operate as long as their employees wear face masks or coverings, limit the number of people on premises as outlined in the order and enforce social distancing. Businesses owners will need to review the order to be sure that they understand if their business may be open and how it may operate, if it is. In the coming days we will be providing additional information and tools to help business owners understand the guidance for Phase 1 so that they can protect the health and safety of their customers and their employees.”

Click here for information for businesses.

The order signed today is almost identical to the Governor’s previous orders. Businesses that previously were directed to be closed will remain closed, including salons, barber shops, bars and casinos. Businesses that are deemed essential under the third phase of federal CISA guidance will still be open. Non-essential retail and other businesses in Louisiana continue to be able to open with no more than 10 people total inside, including employees and customers.

Three noteworthy changes in the new Stay at Home order include:

Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery. Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service. All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask or face covering.

Additionally, both the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks or face coverings when in public.

Hopefully, Louisiana will meet the White House criteria and move to Phase 1 on May 15, provided symptoms, new case counts and hospitalizations decrease and the state continues to surge testing and contact tracing capacity. Phase 1 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 to keep everyone safe. Phase 1 occupancy for these businesses will be limited to 25 percent, including employees and customers.

As Louisiana prepares to move forward to the next phase, the state will begin issuing guidance and additional resources for businesses, in the coming days and weeks.

Gov. Edwards intends to make his next announcement on moving to Phase 1 in Louisiana on or by May 11. Members of the public can continue to get information from the Governor’s office on Coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.