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 food 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

“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:

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin gets early release from federal prison due to coronavirus pandemic

Former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin was released early from federal prison Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence on corruption charges, according to The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.

The former mayor walked out of jail early thanks to a memo from Attorney General William Barr that ordered the release of inmates who are at risk for coronavirus.

Nagin was a “perfect” candidate for release given his lack of prior criminal record and because he served, according to the Times-Picayune | Advocate.

Nagin served as mayor from 2002 to 2010 (re-elected in 2006 and terming out in 2010).

He was re-elected despite his response to Hurricane Katrina, but later indicted on 21 federal corruption charges related to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and free granite slabs for a family business in exchange for city contracts.

A jury found Nagin guilty on 20 out of 21 charges and he was sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison, which was below the 15 to 20 years recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.