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:

A Vieux From Toulouse

(Art by Eric Styles)
If an economy crashes and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

As much as I want this shut down to end, I’m going to kind of miss it. The French Quarter is like small town America now. Mayberry like. Sparsely occupied sidewalks with familiar residents, little traffic. No litter or feces to step around, none. Quiet, eerie quiet. No music or barkers, no revving engines of little dick assholes, no screaming bachelorette banshees, just silence. Do you know that we have song birds in the Quarter? We do. I’m really impressed by how much sex my neighbors have.

By nature, I try to distance myself from people in public. Now it’s not just socially acceptable, it’s mandated. The best part is, I can no longer be accused of “microaggressions.”

“Why dija’cross the street to the other side? You racist?”
“You’re shirtless, have a huge piss stain on the front of your pants, wearing one shoe and are waving a broken beer bottle. Fuck yea, I’m crossing over to the other sidewalk.”

Now it’s my civic duty to put as much distance between me and strangers as I can.

I’ve been on the receiving end of the stare. One early evening a couple of years ago while walking down Toulouse towards Decatur, a cliché Midwest family were walking towards me; a sitcom-looking family: mom, dad and two kids. A boy, around 11 years of age, and the girl, about 8 years of age, were taking up the sidewalk. I was on curb side preparing to pass by, when from about 8 feet away, the boy looks up at me and shrieks “STRANGER DANGER!” He grabs his little sister and pulls them both back in line between their parents.

The father at the rear looks at me, knowing half of the block heard his son. The dad’s eyes were huge with a look of panic and embarrassment. I glared back with my most animated expression of “REALLY?”

A half a block later, I chuckled to myself thinking that I should have gone Jake Blues on all of them.

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 Sales proceeds go to support Villalobos dog rescue, which costs approximately $4 million a year to operate, according to its website.

Capt. Anthony Caprera promoted to lead NOPD 8th District; ex-station chief demoted

A New Orleans Police lieutenant with the 8th District was promoted to the rank of captain on Friday and will now lead the station as its new commander.

Capt. Anthony Caprera (pictured left), who is now in charge of the 8th District, was promoted from lieutenant during a private ceremony in Superintendent Shaun Ferguson’s office on Friday, according to New Orleans Police.

Additionally, Capt. Preston Bax, formerly a lieutenant and assistant commander with New Orleans Police’s 4th District, was promoted to captain and commander of the 6th District during the same ceremony.

The ceremonies were held separately and in private in order to practice social/physical distancing measures to stop coronavirus spread, the New Orleans Police said.

NOPD 8th District officer dies after battle with coronavirus

Caprera takes on responsibility for the district, which includes the French Quarter, the Central Business District and parts, other parts of downtown and a portion of the Marigny.

Caprera replaced his former boss, Lt. Octavio Baldassaro (pictured right), who was demoted from captain following an undisclosed and ongoing internal administrative investigation conducted by the Public Integrity Bureau, New Orleans Police said.

Baldassaro was previously investigated for an excessive force incident in which he was filmed throwing a woman to the ground while arresting her for fighting during French Quarter Festival in 2019, but was later cleared of wrongdoing, according to The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.