WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (As of November 25, 2020)
Gov. Edwards Orders Statewide Mask Mandate, Closes Bars to On Premises Consumption as COVID-19 Continues to Spread Across Louisiana
All indoor gatherings limited to 50 total people to prevent the spread of illness
Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a mandatory mask requirement for Louisiana and ordered bars in the state closed to on-premises consumption, as the state experiences increasing spread of COVID-19. The Governor also limited indoor social gatherings like wedding receptions, class reunions and parties to 50 total people. With these additional restrictions, Louisiana remains in Phase Two of the Roadmap for a Resilient Louisiana.
The statewide mask mandate, which will allow for parishes without high COVID-19 incidence to opt out if they choose, and bar closures go into effect Monday, July 13 at 12:01 a.m., per a revised Phase Two proclamation signed today. The order will also limit the size of gatherings to 50. The new order is set to expire July 24, 2020, but could be extended.
“Cases in Louisiana continue to increase, including setting a record-high number of new cases reported in one day, today and yesterday. More than two thousand new COVID infections reported each of these days and increased hospitalizations are signs that we continue to go in the wrong direction in our work to control COVID-19 in our state. While I had hoped to avoid going backwards on restrictions, it is obvious that it is necessary to slow the spread of infection in our state, as COVID-19 has spread to every corner, at a level higher than we have previously seen. This is why I am now mandating face coverings statewide and also closing all bars in Louisiana to on-premises consumption, in addition to putting in limits on the size of indoor gatherings,” Gov. Edwards said. “Right now, all Louisianans need to work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing their face masks, keeping social distance, washing their hands frequently and staying at home when they are feeling sick. These are reasonable expectations while we fight to reduce the spread of the illness in our state. This approach also gives us the best possible chance to again flatten the curve without moving back to Phase One.”
The statewide mask mandate applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the most recent two-week period for which data is available could choose to opt out of the mandate. Parish presidents do not have to opt out and may choose to keep a mask mandate in place. Currently, only three parishes in Louisiana do not exceed this standard, which will be updated every other week by the Louisiana Department of Health: Grant, Red River and West Feliciana.
The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older except for the following:
- Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
- Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
- Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
- Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
- Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
- Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate
Masks are strongly recommended for children ages 2 to 7.
CLOSURE OF BARS TO ALL ON PREMISES CONSUMPTION
All bars, including those with food permits from the Louisiana Department of Health, will be closed to on-premises consumption. They can operate for curbside takeout or delivery service only.
Since the start of the crisis, Louisiana has identified at least 36 outbreaks, impacting at least 405 people, involving bars, which were actually closed under the Governor’s original Stay at Home order. Public health officials believe going to bars is a higher public health risk than visiting other types of businesses because people are socializing and cannot wear masks when they drink. In addition, young people under the age of 30 make up the largest percentage of new COVID cases in Louisiana.
The new order also limits the size of social gatherings to 50 people indoors. Outdoor social gatherings are also limited to 50 people if individuals cannot avoid being within six feet of one another.
This crowd size limitation shall not apply to those businesses deemed essential as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or any businesses and organizations operating at 50% capacity pursuant to Paragraphs (1) through (6) of Subsection (G) of Section 2 of 83 JBE 2020, including churches and other faith-based organizations.
The 50-person limit will apply to indoor gatherings, like receptions, weddings and others. The changes are based on the advice of public health officials.
Click here to read the proclamation.
State Treasurer’s Office Releases Information About Louisiana’s Main street Recovery Program
|This week, State Treasurer John Schroder’s office released new information about Louisiana’s Main Street Recovery program, the $300 million small business relief fund created by the Legislature during the regular session.
To be eligible for the program, businesses must meet the following requirements:
|For more information about the program, including answers to frequently asked questions, click HERE.|
Gov. Edwards Announces Louisiana’s Roadmap to Resilience Will Start Phase 2 on Friday, June 5
Federal Reserve Releases New Information on Main Street Lending Program
US House of Representatives Approves PPP Loan Changes Backed by US Chamber
- Extends the loan term from 8 weeks to 24 weeks;
- Lowers the percentage of loan proceeds that must be used on payroll from 75% to 60%; and
- Extends the PPP from June 30th to Dec. 31, 2020.
Small Business Administration Releases New PPP Guidance
- Keeps the current “75%/25% rule,” stating non-payroll costs cannot exceed 25% of the loan forgiveness amount
- Provides more detail on the “alternative covered period,” explaining that it can begin with the borrower’s payroll cycle (not date of loan disbursement)
- Includes bonuses and hazard pay as payroll costs eligible for forgiveness
- Provides additional information on how loan forgiveness applies in the case of an employee who has been offered, but turned down a job
Louisiana Department of Revenue Announces Additional Sales Tax Relief Provisions
Gov. Edwards: Louisiana will Move to Phase One Statewide on May 15, COVID-19 Stay at Home Order will be Lifted for Louisianans
On May 11, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the current Stay at Home order will be lifted on May 15 and that businesses, with a few exceptions, will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent of their State Fire Marshal capacity. Every business should ensure they have an up-to-date and accurate maximum occupancy number for their locations on which to base their reduced occupancy allowance. BRAC’s latest analysis provides guidance on identifying occupancy limits so that businesses can safely prepare for reopening.
Gov. Edwards Will Extend Stay at Home Order Until May 15
Goal: Continue Flattening the Curve and Slowing the Spread of COVID-19
As you know, today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he will extend Louisiana’s Stay at Home order until May 15 to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. Louisiana does not currently meet the White House criteria for entering Phase One of reopening.
That said, Louisiana has been very supportive of businesses, with consideration given to construction, modified retail and industrial work activities. As we hear Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi executing limited opening plans, we note that they are opening in some business settings that were never closed or restricted in Louisiana.
Under the extended order, which will be issued on Friday, May 1, businesses that previously were directed to be closed will remain closed, including salons, barber shops, bars and casinos, among other things. Businesses that are deemed essential under the third phase of federal CISA guidance may still be open. Non-essential retail businesses in Louisiana continue to be able to open with fewer than 10 people total inside.
Three major changes in the new Stay at Home order include:
- Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery.
- Restaurants will be allowed to open outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service.
- All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.
Additionally, both the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks in public.
“Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Gov. Edwards said. “Wearing a mask is being a good neighbor and in Louisiana, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. Your mask protects me and other people and my mask protects you.”
Hopefully, Louisiana will meet the White House criteria and move to Phase 1 on May 15, provided symptoms, new case counts and hospitalizations decrease and the state continues to surge testing and contact tracing capacity. Phase 1 lifts the Stay at Home order and eases restrictions on some public spaces like houses of worship and restaurants and opens other businesses that have been closed such as barber shops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks to keep everyone safe. Phase One occupancy for these businesses will be limited to 25 percent.
As Louisiana prepares for its next phase of reopening, business owners and faith leaders are encouraged to plan as well, including understanding their building’s maximum occupancy limits, which may require contacting local government or the State Fire Marshal’s office. They should also plan on ensuring their employees have masks.
Gov. Edwards intends to make his next announcement on moving to Phase 1 in Louisiana on or by May 11. Members of the public can continue to get information from the Governor’s office on http://coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.
LED’s business hotline 1-833-457-0531 or e-mail to LEDBiz@la.gov remain available for additional questions.
Please find attached and at this link the U.S. Chamber’s Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist. This is the first of a number of resources we are developing to help you connect your members with the resources recently approved by Congress to respond to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
As many of you are aware, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the “Paycheck Protection Program,” the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.
Please share the guide digitally with every small business owner and small business employee.
Recommendations for Businesses
|As you look to pass accurate information to your workers and make important decisions regarding business operations, a good place to start is with the CDC’s recommended business strategies, which include:
For more information, see below or visit the website of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, a LABI member company, for a variety of other resources, fact sheets and fliers regarding COVID-19 including:
Information from Louisiana Workforce Commission
While Caronavirus is confirmed in only 10 parishes, the impacts will be felt statewide. The Louisiana Workforce Commission has provided guidelines and information regarding unemployment insurance for employers and workers affected by the crisis.
For more information regarding LWC’s operations and procedures during this time, visit their Coronavirus website.
Information from La. Department of Health
|With 114 cases of coronavirus confirmed across 10 parishes (Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, Caddo, St. Charles, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Terrebonne, Bossier, and St. John the Baptist) the Louisiana Department of Health has resources available for the business community.
In addition, LDH has also made some printable items available that can be placed around your place of business and company facilities.
For more information, visit LDH’s Coronavirus website or you can call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. In addition, you can text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for regular text updates from LDH on the coronavirus in our state.
Information from US Chamber
Given the nationwide scope of this challenge, our partners in Washington at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have made resources available for American businesses and workers: