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State returns to Phase 3 COVID restrictions

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
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Louisiana is back in Phase Three of coronavirus reopening today.

The relaxed restrictions Gov. John Bel Edwards announced during a press conference Tuesday remain in effect at least until March 31.

But the governor warned Louisianans not to become complacent, especially in the face of new, more virulent strains of COVID-19.

“While we’re doing better, while we’re easing the restrictions, no one should think we’re out of the woods,” Edwards said.

The new rules allow restaurants and most other businesses to move from 50% capacity to 75% capacity. Event centers are allowed to have seated gatherings at 50% occupancy or 250 people.

Live music can also return to indoor events so long as the venue follows rules set forth by the state fire marshal’s office, Edwards said.

Outdoor events are limited to 50% capacity of the space, and gyms and fitness clubs are still capped at 50% occupancy.

There will be no capacity limits on religious services, the governor said.

The mask mandate Edwards ordered in July remains in place. With the increased occupancy allowances, wearing masks may be “more important than ever,” Edwards said.

Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Judy Copeland said the return to Phase Three should be a good move locally, especially for event venues.

“Definitely having the music allowed inside will help them have a little more business,” Copeland said.

The new Phase Three order is less restrictive than one Edwards initially imposed on Sept. 11. But at the end of November, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surged, and the holiday season approached, Edwards moved the state back into a modified, but more limiting, Phase Two status.

Edwards said Tuesday his was willing to loosen the mitigation measures now because cases, hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths are dropping. Louisiana’s positivity rate is also down to around 5%, about onethird what it was in early January, Edwards said.

“We are currently moving in the right direction, and we have been for several weeks now,” he said.

The increase in COVID-19 cases in Lincoln Parish has also slowed, according to numbers posted by the Louisiana Department of Health. As of noon Tuesday, LDH reported 3,253 confirmed cases in the parish since the pandemic began a year ago this month.

That number also includes 84 parish residents who have died as a result of COVID-19, and five more whose deaths may be COVIDrelated.