Edwards press conference, 5/11/20

BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that the state will move into the first phase of reopening its businesses and economy effective Friday, May 15.

A proclamation will be issued May 14 to define the specifics of that phase.

Edwards said the state will move to Phase 1, which will raise the stay-at-home order Edwards issued in mid-March. It will lift restrictions on some businesses, but not tattoo parlors, bars, amusement parks, massage parlors or other businesses that make maintaining social distance difficult, if not impossible.

He said that, statewide, Louisiana does meet the guidelines set for moving to Phase 1 issued from the Trump administration.

"Obviously like all decisions, this one required a lot of time and work," Edwards said.

What will be allowed under the new proclamation is the reopening of hair and nail salons, gyms, fitness centers and restaurants, but only at 25 percent of their rated capacity and with social distance guidelines enforced. 

Any employees who have contact with the public will be required to wear a mask. Tables will be 10 feet in restaurants, and employees will count toward the 25 percent occupancy cap. Social distancing for outdoor dining wil remain in place.

Edwards also said his biggest challenge was to weigh the security of the public against the health of the state's economy.

"I do believe we are striking the right balance with thais plan," Edwards said.

He said the first phase is expected to run for 21 days, until June 5. He said the next proclamation, determining whether the state will continue to ease restrictions, will be issued on June 1.

For more information on the requirements and particulars of the Phase 1 order, go to http://opensafely.la.gov.

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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