New Orleans: Omicron Concerns Force Mask Mandate
The City of New Orleans has (re)announced an indoor mask mandate due to growing concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
This reinstated mask mandate comes back into effect to accompany the city's proof of vaccination or negative test result requirement that has been in effect for several months.
According to WDSU, New Orleans is currently experiencing a coronavirus "positivity rate" of over 30%, and health officials are taking action. The mask mandate begins Wednesday, January 12, 2022.
The Health Director for the City of New Orleans, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, says that area emergency rooms are experiencing backlogs in which some people are waiting for up to 10 hours for treatment. She also pointed out in a COVID-19 briefing yesterday that schools were being affected by the variant.
MASKING IN NEW ORLEANS
The mandate is in effect for ALL indoor spaces, as outlined on the website. These spaces include
"restaurants, bars, fitness centers, entertainment venues, and other businesses".
Masks are also required in other "public" facilities
"all healthcare facilities and public transportation, including airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, buses, taxis, ride-shares, and the corresponding transportation hubs".
Schools are included in the mandate, as it calls for masks to be required
"all K-12 education institutions for students, faculty, and staff consistent with the protocols set by the Louisiana Department of Health".
VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS IN NEW ORLEANS
Not only must one mask when entering affected indoor facilities, but one must also provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result, as outlined below, to access these facilities:
Individuals 5 years of age and older must provide proof of at least one dose of an approved COVID vaccine or negative antigen or PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before entry (must include the individual’s name, date of the test, and results clearly visible on an official report)
The official website for New Orleans provides a partial list of the types of businesses and activities in which proof is required:
Breweries, microbreweries, distilleries & micro-distilleries
Indoor group fitness centers or individual fitness classes
INDOOR ENTERTAINMENT & PERFORMANCE SPACES
Indoor sports complexes, stadiums & arenas
Concert & music halls
Event spaces such as hotel ballrooms, event venues & reception halls
Pool halls, bowling alleys, indoor play centers, arcades, skating rinks, indoor playgrounds & arcades
Adult live performance venues
Casinos, racetracks & video poker establishments
Indoor amusement facilities
LARGE OUTDOOR EVENTS
Outdoor events of more than 500 people if total attendance is more than 50% of the outdoor venue's capacity.
GATHERING REQUIREMENTS IN NEW ORLEANS
If you plan on attending a gathering in New Orleans, the website outlines what is required, including recommendations on wearing masks:
Individuals attending indoor or outdoor events of more than 500 individuals are strongly recommended to wear masks through the duration of event (except while actively eating or drinking).
- Proof of vaccination or negative antigen or PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before entry (must include the individual’s name, date of the test, and results clearly visible on an official report) required at all indoor gatherings at establishments included in these requirements.
Proof of vaccination or negative antigen or PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before entry (must include the individual’s name, date of the test, and results clearly visible on an official report) required for outdoor events of 500+ people if total attendance is more than 50% of the outdoor venue's capacity.
The website is very clear: Masks are required for any indoor event and strongly recommended for outdoor events.
This leaves many people asking: How will this affect the carnival season? At this time, there is no "official" word on any additional cancellations of Mardi Gras events in the city.
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