Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide stay-at-home order that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana as the number of confirmed cases has topped 800 and spread to more than half of the state's parishes.
"How is this different from the order we have been operating under?" Edwards asked rhetorically. "What this order does is it expands the list of businesses not allowed to operate. It will dramatically reduce the number of people out and about. Non-essential workers should not be going to work. Telecommuting should be maximized."
The order closes all state offices to the public, although state workers will continue to provide services for customers. It also limits gatherings to groups of 10 or less, with a minimum distance between individuals of six feet.
The general stay-at-home order directs all residents to remain home unless performing an "essential activity." Some examples are:
- Obtaining food or medicine
- Obtaining non-elective medical care
- Going to or from work to provide food, medical or other services as indicated above or to a job identified as an essential worker function
- Going to or from the home of a family member
- Going to or from your place of worship
- Engaging in an outdoor activity, like walking a pet or jogging, as long as the guidelines for personal space and the 10-person group limit are observed
The new order has limits on the following:
- All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to: locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, pool halls, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, any theaters, concert and music halls, adult entertainment venues, racetracks, and other similar businesses.
- All personal care and grooming businesses, including but not limited to, barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and other similar businesses.
- All malls, except for stores in a mall that have a direct outdoor entrance and exit that provide essential services and products as provided by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidelines.
- Businesses closed to the public as listed in the order can conduct necessary activities such as payroll, cleaning services, maintenance or upkeep as necessary.
- Any business not covered by the guidance from the CISA discussed in Section 3 of the order and not ordered to temporarily close must reduce operations to continue with minimum contact with members of the public and essential employees, while requiring proper social distancing, adhering to the 10-person limitation on gathering size.
- Early learning centers and child care facilities adhering to the guidance issued by the Louisiana Department of Education and Office of Public Health may continue to operate.
Examples of Essential Worker Functions under the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidelines include:
- Healthcare workers and caregivers
- Mental health and Social Service workers
- Pharmacy employees
- Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail sales of food and beverage products
- Restaurant carryout and quick-serve food operations and food delivery employees
- Farm workers
- Electricity and Utility Industry Employees
- Critical Manufacturing Employees (medical supply chains, energy, transportation, food, chemicals)
- Petroleum, Natural and Propane Gas Workers
- Transportation and Logistics Workers
- Communications and Information Technology Employees
- Financial Services and Banking Industry Employees
"We're not going to be operating checkpoints and asking people why they are out and about," Edwards said. "But I expect every Louisiana citizen to be the best citizen they have ever been."
During his presentation, Edwards used several graphics to show the severity of the coronavirus spread in Louisiana. One showed Louisiana as having the fastest rate of growth in confirmed cases among the states. Another depicted the state as having the third-highest rate of infection per capita among U.S. states, behind only to Washington and New York.
Another graphic traced the projected graph of the spread of the virus in Louisiana compared to other nations. That curve tracked far closer to that of Italy and Spain, where the number of confirmed cases and deaths has spiraled upward, and less like Singapore, Japan and South Korea, where mitigation efforts have slowed the growth of the pandemic.
Edwards also said the state will begin updating its data on the growth of the pandemic once a day at noon rather than at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. as it has been doing.