New Orleans enters ‘Phase 2’ reopening June 13; bars allowed to operate with limited capacity

(Photo: The intersection of Toulouse and Bourbon streets on March 9, 2020. | Infrogmation/CC)
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Tuesday that the city will enter “Phase 2” of reopening from COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on June 13, allowing bars without permits and outdoor pools to operate at 25% capacity with distancing requirements.

Phase 2 in New Orleans officially starts at 6 a.m. on June 13. The city is the last part of the state to move out of Phase 1 reopening. The rest of the state entered the second phase of reopening on June 5. The city entered Phase 1 reopening on May 16.

The next phase also increases the capacity to 50% for bars with food permits, barbers and hair salons and tattoo parlors, among other businesses.

Operations that continue to remain closed include festivals, indoor live entertainment venues and arcades.

The pandemic shutdown has particularly impacted the city’s hospitality industry workforce, which make up more than a quarter of jobs in the French Quarter, according to U.S. Census statistics, however the neighborhood is poised to spring back to life after allowing bars to reopen and increasing capacity in restaurants.

Cantrell issued a March 16 proclamation that closed the vast majority of businesses in the French Quarter — including bars, nightclubs and requiring restaurants to close in-dining spaces and switch to deliveries or to-go orders — in order to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The mayor planned a phased reopening of the city based on several factors. Phase 2 reopening factors include sustained and available testing, sufficient health care testing, effective contact tracing and no dramatic spikes in coronavirus cases.

The Louisiana Department of Health on Wednesday reported 7,247 cumulative cases of coronavirus and 513 deaths in Orleans Parish. The disease was first detected on March 9, according to New Orleans public health officials.

For complete information on Phase 2 reopening in New Orleans, visit ready.nola.gov.



“No cars in the Quarter”: Mayor Cantrell sends team to research turning French Quarter into pedestrian mall

(Photo: JasonParis | CC)
The idea of turning the French Quarter into a pedestrian mall is the focus of a new city task force formed by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who is considering the elimination of automobile access to the neighborhood.

During a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, Cantrell said she formed a tiger team, or specialists in a certain field, several weeks ago to research a set of designs that would repurpose French Quarter public space to include broader pedestrian access and allow businesses to expand along streets.

Additionally, the plans would eliminate automobiles from the neighborhood, except for commercial and delivery traffic.

The details came in the social media town hall meeting in which Cantrell answered questions from the public on several topics, including COVID-19, phased reopenings, hurricane evacuations and an out-of-commission water turbine that exploded in December.

Using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity, Cantrell said it was time to “re-imagine” how public spaces are utilized in the 300-year-old historic district.

“I see it,” Cantrell said. “From that Joan of Arc, I want it all open.

“I call it the no-cars Quarter.”

Officials are also evaluating “policies and procedures” to reduce competition among street performers and musicians and they’re also introduced a proposal to city council for restaurants to provide additional outdoor, curbside seating with “parklets,” according to Cantrell.

Cantrell said her team will put forth several “exciting” recommendations for consideration. Watch the entire town hall below:

The Tahyo, ‘Pit Bulls & Parolees’ gift shop on lower Decatur Street, closes due to COVID-19 shutdown

A gift shop connected to “Pit Bulls and Parolees” reality TV show located on lower Decatur Street, has closed earlier this month, citing the COVID-19 mandatory shutdowns.

In a statement posted to social media on May 15, Villalobos Rescue Center announced that The Tahyo, located at 1224 Decatur St., closed for good following a prolonged shutdown due to coronavirus.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a March 16 executive order that closed businesses as part of a measure to contain spread of the virus. On May 16, Cantrell began easing restrictions and instituted a phased reopening of the city.

The shop was one of the first to close following the initial outbreak of the virus several months ago, according to Tia Torres, who runs the nonprofit all-breed dog rescue shelter and focus of the TV show.

Torres’ daughter Mariah ran the lower Decatur Street shop to help support the dogs housed by her mother’s rescue.

“We could not hold up against the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of mandatory shutdowns,” according to a May 15 statement released by The Tahyo. “We enjoyed our time on Decatur St and will miss our FQ family.”

The store will continue to exist, however, in its online form at thetahyo.com. Sales proceeds go to support Villalobos dog rescue, which costs approximately $4 million a year to operate, according to its website.

French Quarter Festival, Satchmo Summerfest canceled due to COVID-19

Two annual festivals held in the French Quarter for the last several decades were canceled, organizers announced on Thursday, adding to the increasing financial blow to businesses and growing list of events nixed due to the shutdown of the New Orleans tourist economy caused by closures and stay-at-home orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Twitter statement on May 7, the nonprofit organizer of the French Quarter Festival and Satchmo Summerfest said both 2020 events were officially canceled and were rescheduled in 2021.

Additionally, the organizer, French Quarter Festival, Inc., launched a resilience campaign to raise money that will cover the loss of revenue caused by the pandemic.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a March 16 order closing certain businesses, including bars and live performance venues that compose much of the French Quarter. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 22, which was extended to at least May 15.

French Quarter Festival, which started in 1984 and is described as one of America’s largest free music festivals, was postponed until October this year but rescheduled for April 8 to 11 in 2021.

Satchmo Summerfest, which celebrates the life of New Orleans jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong and is held in early August, is rescheduled for July 30 to August 1, 2021.

Both festivals combined contribute to the generate substantial financial support annually for businesses and musicians in the French Quarter.

Jazz, Voodoo and Essence festivals were also canceled this year due to coronavirus.

People who visited the New Orleans in 2017 contributed nearly $8.8 billion to the local economy, according to the city’s Tourism Marketing Corporation, which spent almost $16.7 million promoting the city in the same year.