BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected soon to announce his plans for a “very gradual effort" to loosen business restrictions and a public gathering ban enacted to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

One small step was beginning Monday as some non-emergency medical services resumed. The Democratic governor’s stay-at-home order took effect March 23. It expires Thursday. Edwards was expected Monday afternoon to release specifics of what restrictions he’ll continue into May and which ones he’ll end. The governor is moving cautiously and has warned any loosened restrictions could come with mask mandates and physical distancing requirements for businesses.

The Governor gave the OK for most dental procedures to begin again today along with time-sensitive elective medical surgeries.

Former Louisiana Dental Association President Dr. Kristi Soileau says the only work not being allowed at this time is cosmetic dentistry that is for the sole purpose of enhancing someone’s appearance.

“Things like veneers, cosmetic bonding, we may not be able to do gum lifts or making the teeth longer if it is strictly for aesthetics,” says Soileau.

Ongoing orthodontic procedures like check-ups for braces, wires, or aligners are allowed, and procedures to do new braces or aligners are allowed as well if they are not solely for cosmetic reasons.

Soileau says the order does allow people to come back to their dentist for a regular checkup.

“You can indeed have a diagnostic test, a “regular exam”, but we don’t always know when an exam is regular until after we have performed the exam and performed the diagnostic radiograph,” says Soileau.

While most procedures are back, social distancing will be observed. Soileau says patients will notice that were will either be no or very few people in the waiting room.

“We will either ask them if they do have to sit out in the waiting room to spread apart or many times we will ask them to stay in the car or we will call them when the procedure is almost done,” says Soileau.

She also encourages patients to wear masks and says all trafficked areas will be regularly disinfected.

For the first time in a month, many elective medical surgeries are set to proceed in Louisiana.

State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says emergency procedures have been happening, but medical centers will now be allowed to catch up on much need time-sensitive, but less pressing surgeries.

“It’s time sensitive if waiting any longer would adversely impact the patient. Those procedures should be done now, but they need to do it carefully,” says Guidry.

Your trip to the doctor will not be the same as it once was. Guidry says medical facilities have strict social distancing guidelines to follow.

“Calling, making an appointment, if you have symptoms letting your provider know. All of these are critical to making sure that we get back to taking care of health conditions,” says Guidry.

Waiting room space will either be limited or not available during this time.

Governor Edwards says now that cases have plateaued we have to resume normal medical care.

“We know that our people are sicker than we want them to be and if they can’t go to the doctor then they just keep getting sicker when you are not managing their disease. They are then more vulnerable to the disease that we are trying to protect them from,” says Edwards.

The Governor also adds these elective procedures are the economic lifeblood of hospitals that have taken a huge financial hit over the last month.

(Story written by MELINDA DESLATTE/AP & Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)