On November 24, 2020, in connection with the statewide public health emergency that he declared on March 11, 2020, and noting that (1) “the State of Louisiana moved into Phase 1 of recovery on…May 15, 2020”, (2) “the State of Louisiana moved into Phase 2 of recovery on…June 4, 2020”, and (3) “the State of Louisiana moved into Phase 3 of recovery on…September 11, 2020”, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation, effective November 25, 2020, returning Louisiana to Phase 2 of recovery, while continuing the face covering order that he originally issued on July 11. In support of this action, the November 24 proclamation provides, among other things, that (a) “beginning in early November, Louisiana began to see an alarming and steep rise in [COVID-19] cases, test positivity, hospitalizations, and deaths”, (b) “the [most recent White House Coronavirus Task Force State Report for Louisiana, dated November 22, 2020,] shows that for the week of November 13-20, Louisiana saw an increase of 175% of new cases from the previous week, an increase of 27% in hospitalizations, and, tragically, a 255% increase in COVID-19 deaths,” and (c) “there is no question that Louisiana is in the midst of a third surge of COVID-19, and it is therefore necessary to return to the Phase 2 mitigation measures that have demonstrated proven success in protecting the health and safety of the people of Louisiana.”
“Higher Risk” Individuals
The November 24 proclamation continues to encourage all individuals “who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19” to stay at home unless traveling outside the home for an essential activity, including “[o]btaining medicine [and] medical care and treatment and other similar vital services for an individual or family member of the individual.” The November 24 proclamation defines those individuals “who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19” as those “at higher risk of severe illness, as designated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), [including] those with conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, compromised immune systems (including from smoking, cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, or use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications), diabetes, serious heart disease (including heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and hypertension), chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, liver disease, or severe obesity or those who are 65 or older or living in a nursing home or long-term care facility”.
Healthcare Providers and Certain Other Businesses Reduced To 50% Capacity
The November 24 proclamation continues to permit restaurants, beauty shops, shopping malls, and gyms as well as those businesses or organizations not otherwise specifically addressed therein—thus including healthcare providers—to continue operations, but now requires such businesses to reduce total occupancy from 75% (as permitted in Phase 3) to 50%, as determined by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal.
Event Centers and Athletic Events Reduced To 25% Capacity
The November 24 proclamation also continues to permit event centers and elementary and secondary school outdoor athletic events to continue, but now requires such businesses and events to reduce total occupancy from 50% (as permitted in Phase 3) to 25%, as determined by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal.
Churches and Casinos May Continue To Operate At The Same Total Capacity
The November 24 proclamation did not reduce the total capacity limitations, as determined by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal, for churches (and other faith-based operations) or casinos. Accordingly, churches and other faith-based operations may continue to operate at 75% total capacity and casinos may continue to operate at 50% capacity.
General Rules That Remain Applicable to All Businesses and Events
The November 24 proclamation continues to generally provide that (i) waiting rooms, lobbies, or other areas where members of the public may congregate (except for bathrooms) shall be closed and members of the public should be required to wait outside, while maintaining social distancing, or in vehicles; and (ii) any businesses or events covered by the proclamation shall follow the applicable guidance from the Louisiana State Fire Marshal published at opensafely.la.gov and the Louisiana Department of Health with regard to sanitization and disinfection.
Reduction of Crowd Sizes
Unless otherwise addressed in the November 24 proclamation (as described above), the November 24 proclamation limits crowd sizes (a) in any single indoor space to 25% capacity as determined by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal, not to exceed 75 people, and (b) in any single outdoor space to 25% capacity as determined by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal, not to exceed 150 people “where individuals will be in close proximity to one another and unable to maintain strict social distancing of six feet apart from individuals who are not immediate household members”.
Face Covering Order Remains In Effect
Finally, the November 24 proclamation maintains in place the statewide face covering order, which, subject to certain enumerated exceptions, provides that “[e]very individual in Louisiana shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial establishment or any other building or space open to the public, whether indoor or outdoor. This shall include public or commercial modes of transportation.”
The November 24 proclamation, and the restrictions therein, remain in effect until December 23, 2020, unless terminated sooner or later extended.