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'The time for warnings has passed' | New Orleans shutting down bars for breaking COVID rules

According to the city, the violations included not enforcing mask-wearing or social distancing and alcohol being served past 11 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS — The city of New Orleans is making good on its promise to shut down bars and businesses not following guidelines ordered to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

“We spent almost 10, 11 months now providing, guiding, educating, supporting businesses being in compliance and reopening safely,” New Orleans Deputy CAO Peter Bowen said. “The time for warnings has passed.”  

Saturday night, city inspectors shut down Si'Nai Gourmet Restaurant at 5750 Hayne Blvd., Fifth Quarter Bar at 5746 Hayne Blvd., and the G-7 Special Event Hall at 7124 Downman Road.

According to the city, the violations included not enforcing mask-wearing or social distancing and alcohol being served past 11 p.m.

One of the venues also could not produce a valid license to sell alcohol. 

“We know there are other bad actors out there,” Bowen said. “We know that we have more to do.” 

Friday night, the city closed Cadi Corner, TJ Quills, the District, and the Red Eye. 

According to the city, those locations were also selling drinks past the 11 p.m. closing time. 

Bowen said when inspectors arrived at the Red Eye in the Warehouse District – they found the front door bolted inside by a two by four and a locked deadbolt.

“If there was a fire that could have been a mass casualty,” Bowen said.  

Red Eye owner Albert Bowes declined an on-camera interview but told WWL-TV, the bar will remain closed for the foreseeable future. 

“We will reopen when the COVID restrictions are more relaxed, possibly when 50 percent of the occupancy is allowed back in the bar,” Bowes said. “We will remain closed until we can operate properly and safely.” 

The closed bars won’t be allowed to reopen until they submit a plan to the city outlining how they can operate safely. 

The businesses may also face additional penalties from city and state boards that control liquor licenses and alcohol permits. 

The city is expanding restrictions for the 5-day Mardi Gras weekend. 

Beginning on Friday, all bars must close, including those operating as restaurants. Go-cup liquor sales are also forbidden. 

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