As of 11 p.m. tonight, bars will be closing
once again for indoor seating. Due to current COVID-19 case numbers, bar
patrons will no longer be allowed to consume their drinks inside the bar, but
can sit in outdoor seating, if provided, or buy their drinks and go. Going
forward, bars will also be required to close no later than 11 p.m. daily.
This means that New Orleans is no longer the only parish in Louisiana with COVID-19 cases low enough for bars to operate with indoor service, as they were until now. And no, that's not because another parish brought down their positivity rate. NOLA now joins the rest of the state with cases topping the 5-percent threshold two weeks in a row.
Louisiana Department of Health released their weekly report, showing Orleans Parish at 5.5 percent positivity rate. That marks two weeks in a row of above 5 percent, meaning indoor bar and brewery service is now revoked. As mentioned, bars are allowed to operate with outdoor seating and to-go orders, but not indoor. Indoor live entertainment and bar games are also prohibited.
The city achieved a huge accomplishment in bringing down coronavirus cases and managing to keep the spread low throughout the summer and fall. On Twitter, New Orleans tourism ads appeared, touting the Big Easy as one of the few cities that is currently safe to visit. The reason NOLA was designated as "safe" was because of New Orleanians. We made masking up and keeping our distance a way to signal respect. For a city that is normally friendly and outgoing, we found that we had to change the way we showed that we care about our neighbors. Going into the New Year, we can bring those modified methods of courtesy and compassion with us and get our bars fully open again soon.