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Thomas: Phase 1 is exciting news, but keep following health guidelines

This article was written by Washington Parish President Richard “Ned” Thomas.

On Monday, May 11, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana will move forward to Phase 1 on Friday, May 15. Phase 1 allows the Stay at Home Order to be lifted, along with the requirement that the public wear a mask. I do encourage citizens to continue to wear a mask when going in high congested areas and kindly ask high risk individuals to remain at home as much as possible.

The following types of locations will be allowed to reopen Friday with a limit in place of 25 percent of their State Fire Marshal capacity to include employees and patrons:

  • Churches.
  • Restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes (including indoor table-side service).
  • Movie theaters.
  • Zoos and aquariums (no touching exhibits).
  • Gyms and fitness centers — with additional LDH guidance.
  • Hair and nail salons — with additional LDH guidance.
  • Retail stores with exterior exits (such as anchor stores at malls).
  • Casinos, video poker parlors, and racetracks (no spectators) — with additional Gaming Control Board guidance.
  • Bars and breweries with a Louisiana Dept. of Health food permit only.

The following types of businesses will remain closed:

  • Massage establishments and spas.
  • Tattoo parlors.
  • Carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, and fairs.
  • Bars and breweries without LDH food permits.
  • Pool halls.
  • Contact sports.
  • Children’s play centers, playgrounds.
  • Theme parks.
  • Adult entertainment venues, and other similar businesses.

I am glad to see our economy slowly opening back up after a long two months. If we all continue with mitigation measures, we should see more and more businesses open with larger capacity in the months ahead. We can not treat this as a pre COVID-19 opening, it is important that we continue to practice social distancing, cover our mouth and nose when we cough or sneeze, wash our hands frequently and avoid large social gatherings as much as possible.

Additional guidance can be found at the following websites: gov.louisiana.gov, ldh.la.gov, and www.cdc.gov.

Also churches and businesses can register at opensafely.la.gov to receive up-to-the-minute information, notifications and guidance for safely opening or operating their business.