Gov. John Bel Edwards officially announced an extension to Louisiana’s stay-at-home order through May 15 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Along with the announcement of an extension, the governor also revealed three major changes to the existing order, which continues the statewide closure of all businesses deemed “non-essential” while continuing limitations on crowds to 10 people or less.
The changes go into effect on Friday, May 1.
According to the governor’s office, which released a statement regarding Edwards’ announcement on Monday, changes to the 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 table-side service.
-- All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.
Edwards’ announcement immediately sent shockwaves through the state, with many citizens questioning the need to continue the stay-at-home order at the expense of the state’s economy, which is taking a big hit amid the global pandemic.
But while Louisiana has seen improving trends statewide regarding new case growth and new hospitalizations, Edwards said his decision to extend the order was based on regional data that shows several regions — particularly the Baton Rouge and Monroe regions — continuing to increase in both new cases and new hospitalizations.
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, according to the governor’s office.
“I am anxious to get all areas of our economy reopened,” Edwards said in a statement Monday afternoon. “But if we accelerate too quickly, we may have to slam on the brakes. That will be bad for public health and for businesses, bad for our people and bad for our state.”
Under the extended order, businesses that previously were directed to be closed will remain closed, including salons, barber shops, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and casinos, among other things.
Businesses that are deemed essential under the third phase of federal CISA guidance may still be open. Non-essential retail businesses in Louisiana continue to be able to open with fewer than 10 people total inside.
Additionally, both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks when in public.
“Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Edwards said.
Across the state, the novel coronavirus reached 27,068 reported cases on Monday, an increase of 295 from the previous day. There are now 17,303 “presumed” recoveries from the novel coronavirus, according to the Department of Health.
On Monday, the Department of Health reported 1,683 hospitalizations from COVID-19, a decrease of 18 from the previous day, and 262 patients on ventilators, a decrease of three in the last 24 hours.
The Department of Health reported 27 new deaths on Monday to bring the statewide death toll to 1,697. There are currently 52 of the state’s 64 parishes reporting at least one COVID-19 related death. Additionally, the Department of Health is reporting 43 “probable” deaths from the novel coronavirus.
Extending the order was “not the announcement” Edwards said he wanted to make but added that, “if we accelerate too quickly, we may have to slam on the brakes. That will be bad for public health and for businesses, bad for our people and bad for our state.”
“The fact is, we just don’t meet the criteria,” said Edwards, who said he received support regarding the order's extension from Vice President Mike Pence.