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New Orleans ends mask mandate for vaccinated residents

Masks will still be required in government buildings, healthcare centers, K-12 schools and on public transportation.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has ended the city's mask mandate.

Cantrell announced Friday that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer have to wear masks in the City of New Orleans.

The move follows new CDC guidelines that say vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors or in most indoor settings.

Current restrictions on gatherings remain in place, including the City's 1 a.m. curfew for businesses. However, dancing is allowed again.

"We will no longer be the town from Footloose!" City health director Dr. Jennifer Avegno said.

The state of Louisiana lifted its mask mandate about two weeks ago, leaving it up to parishes to make their own policies. New Orleans kept the mandate in place until now.

The new rule allows private businesses to implement their own rules. Some business owners tell us they’re still mulling over what to do.

Katie Koch of Katie Koch Home says her employees are all vaccinated, but she will ask customers if they prefer masks on.

“It’s about making the customer feel comfortable. So, just going to do what it makes to keep people happy and coming in,” said Koch. “And you know, the sooner we get over this, it’ll be great.”

The city has also lifted a year-long ban on dancing.

The news came as event planners like Becky Lampp of Spanish Oak Events were setting up for Friday night weddings.

“All of this is so wonderful and it’s all centered around joy and celebration, and people coming together after what’s been a really, really hard year. So, it couldn’t be better news,” said Lampp.

However, Mayor Cantrell is using it to push more residents to protect themselves.

“The virus is still amongst us. But those individuals who have not been vaccinated are at a greater risk. Now is the time to get vaccinated,” she said.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he plans to issue a new executive order lifting the state’s mask mandate in state buildings, citing the CDC's new guidelines.

Speaking at the annual Governor's WestBank Luncheon, Edwards said there will be a few exceptions to lifting the mask mandate. Masks will still be required in nursing homes, prisons, public transit, and K-12 schools. Businesses can make their own decisions on whether to require face coverings.