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Outside of Orleans, curbside shopping at malls and outdoor seating at restaurants a step toward normal

‘“Enjoy yourself… because I am!” said one man with a bag of crawfish and a box of French fries.

NEW ORLEANS — We’re slowly bridging the gap between “to-go” and “together”. Most of Louisiana, although still under lockdown, is enjoying some new freedoms.

Restaurants outside of Orleans Parish are now permitted to provide outdoor seating for take-out, and malls began curbside retail pickup today.

At Lakeside Mall, drivers are sorted into zones in different parking lots. Shoppers can now pick up food or retail items without leaving their driver’s seat.

Hannah Jackson drove from Covington to pick up dinner for an uncle’s birthday.

“Oh my goodness, just to get out of the house, even if it’s just to sit in the parking lot with your window rolled down is amazing,” she said.

A few parking lots away, fine jeweler Lee Michaels is set up to see customers curbside.

“It’s been an extremely busy day today. We’ve had somewhere between 15 and 20 appointments, and it’s three o’clock now,” said Chad Berg, President of Lee Michaels. “It might not be normal, but I think it’s the new normal.”

The shop has a tent set up near the Cheesecake Factory entrance, and employees are wearing masks, shields, gloves, and have access to sanitizer. They have been repairing jewelry and dropping off red boxes in passenger seats for Mother’s Day and graduation gifts.

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Restaurants are getting creative, too, hoping to take advantage of new loosened restrictions that allow takeout to be eaten at tables outside.

There is no table service allowed at this time, and customers are kept ten feet apart.

Many spots like Moby’s Bar and Grill, on Veteran’s Boulevard, are using small parking lots as pop-up patios.

In Bucktown, the line at Deanie’s Seafood spilled onto Lake Avenue. The restaurant has taken tables out of storage and set up a tent outside.

“One, if we can see more people out, that’s great. And two, if that can increase some of our revenue, it’s a win-win for us,” said Jeff Young, a manager at Deanie’s.

Al-fresco takeout might boost sales, but it’s definitely lifting spirits.

"Enjoy yourself… because I am!” said one man with a bag of crawfish and a box of French fries.

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