Beginning Monday, New Orleans restaurants will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to dine indoors.
“The situation is dire and we are simply out of time,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Thursday.
The rule applies to those aged 12 or older at indoor restaurants, bars, breweries, gyms, and entertainment centers. It also applies to large outdoor events of more than 500 people if attendance is more than 50 percent of the venue’s capacity. Employees likewise must provide proof of at least one dose of an approved COVID vaccine or negative test within 72 hours.
Guests can prove their vaccination status using the LA Wallet app by providing a photograph of their CDC vaccination card or an official vaccine record.
The move comes after New Orleans returned to its indoor mask mandate July 30. The CDC released new recommendations in late July for fully vaccinated people to wear masks inside public places in high-risk areas. It was a stark reversal from May when the organization said fully vaccinated people could go back to normal activities without masks.
New Orleans’ new mandate aims to reduce spiking coronavirus cases in the area. The Delta variant, believed to be much more contagious than other strains of coronavirus, led to unprecedented levels of hospitalizations across the state.
Louisiana reported 7,548 new coronavirus cases on Friday, which is a new single-day record, according local TV station WWL-TV. Additionally, unvaccinated individuals account for more than 90 percent of COVID hospitalizations. Louisiana has the fifth-lowest vaccination rate in the U.S. with only 38.3 percent of residents being fully vaccinated, the Mayo Clinic reported.
New Orleans became the first Southern city to require vaccination for restaurant entry. Earlier this month, New York City and San Francisco revealed they would begin requiring proof of vaccination from restaurant customers. New Orleans and New York City are only mandating at least one dose of the vaccine, while San Francisco is requiring both doses. The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 to have city officials prepare guidelines around requiring individuals to show proof of vaccination for public indoor spaces.
“One of the things I am definitely not in favor of is a shutdown,” Cantrell said. “Unlike this time last year, we have a tool that we did not have.”