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New Orleans expands vaccine mandate to children 5 and older - public schools to mandate shots too

Starting January 3, children 5 and above will have to have a proof of at least one COVID shot to get into a restaurant with their family.

NEW ORLEANS — The city of New Orleans is expanding the COVID vaccination mandate to get into restaurants and bars to children ages 5 and up starting on January 3.

On that date, any child age 5 or older would need to have a proof of at least one COVID shot or a recent negative COVID test to go into a place to eat with their family.

Starting in February, that requirement would be for two shots for everyone age 5 and older.

In addition, the city's public schools will require vaccinations for students starting February 1, though you can request an exemption. 

"We want to continue to be on the path of progress leaning into the start of a new year," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell as she gave an update on COVID ahead of the holidays and leading up to Mardi Gras.

Cantrell also said that city officials are looking at the possibility of bringing back a mask mandate ahead of Carnival. She said the city is not announcing a mask mandate at this time.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city's health director, said that if the mask requirement returns, it could come two weeks before Mardi Gras. 

Part of the reason for the increased requirements are the presence of the omicron variant in the country and the state and city.

"The omicron variant is very much in the city of New Orleans," said Cantrell. "We want to get everyone vaccinated - adults and children.

Avegno said that omicron cases seem to be increasing exponentially and seems to be much easier to catch.

Avegno said a possible Mardi Gras 2022 will be under much different conditions than the 2020 season, which was believed to be a super spreader event for COVID.

She said that vaccinations being widely available will make large events "far less likely" to cause tragedies like in 2020.

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