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Louisiana lifts restrictions on most businesses, all outdoor events - masks still required

There will be no restrictions of amount of people on outdoor events.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Governor John Bel Edwards says the positive trends on COVID will allow him to ease most of the current restrictions in a new order that goes into effect Wednesday.

He said the mask mandate will stay in place.

"I've heard the concerns from the CDC about the case counts across the country," he said. "There are some regions in the state that we're concerned about, especially with the variants."

Limitations on bar and restaurant service are being completely lifted and go to local ordinances. "Restaurants, bars, gyms, retail settings will no longer have an occupancy limit," he said.

He did say bars would require people sitting at a table.

Large event settings will be capped at 50 percent. There is no cap on outdoor settings.

New Orleans has already said that it would NOT be moving forward as quickly as the state.  

"Like we’ve always done over the past year…  we will thoroughly assess what the governor announced and I’ll make decisions accordingly," said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell at an unrelated afternoon press briefing.

Edwards added that there is positive news on vaccination supply with nearly 300,000 doses expected to be available in the state next week.

"People in hospitals will tell you that things feel a lot different, there's a lot less COVID in there," said Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state's chief medical officer. "We're decreasing in COVID-like illness, decreasing in new cases and decreasing in hospitalizations."

According to data released by the Louisiana Department of Health Monday, more than 1.1 million Louisiana residents have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose. Most of the approved vaccines require two doses given weeks apart. More than 720,000 people have received both shots. 

The numbers released Monday don't include any of the people vaccinated that day, when vaccinations opened to all adults and to teenagers 16 and older. Preliminary information on the rollout of vaccines to all adults is expected to appear in Thursday's updated. 

But even before the full rollout, nearly 25% of Louisiana's 4.6 million residents have received some protection against the virus. 

Despite the good news in Louisiana, national health experts are cautioning people against becoming complacent.

Because of the vaccination rollout across the U.S., there has been a surge of activity with people returning to in-person events and shopping. Louisiana is one of more than a dozen states where all adults can are eligible to get a vaccine 

While establishments in New Orleans welcome the business, there are fears that the jump in person-to-person contacts could lead to another kind of surge: The fourth wave of COVID-19. 

"If you haven't received your vaccine, please make your appointment," Edwards urged residents at his last coronavirus update. "Take the first vaccine available to you."

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