Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today that he’s scrapping nearly every remaining coronavirus restriction in Louisiana and lifting the statewide requirement that students must wear a mask in the classroom and at school events.
The Democratic governor will keep the statewide public health emergency declaration in place, but Louisiana will have almost none of the rules governing businesses and behavior enacted over the past 15 months of the pandemic.
Edwards cited the wide availability of the coronavirus vaccine in Louisiana, saying anyone who wants the protection offered by immunization against the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus can receive one. But many people aren’t bothering to get the shots, with only 31% of the state’s 4.6 million residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The final vestiges of the restrictions that Edwards had left in place over the last month—including limits on bars, live music venues, athletic events and large gatherings—all will be removed under the new executive order to take effect Wednesday.
Masks still will be required on public transit, in health care facilities and in prisons and jails, as suggested by federal officials. But the other remaining face covering requirements for early learning centers, K-12 schools and universities will end.
School district and university leaders can decide on their own if they want to mandate masks for summer school, summer camps and fall classes. Local parish leaders and business owners also can still require masks if they choose.
Edwards reminded Louisiana residents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 should still wear a mask in public.
The CDC says only people who are fully vaccinated—two weeks past their one-shot or two-shot regimen, depending on the vaccine—should consider resuming normal activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.
Louisiana has seen significant declines in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 and the number of people dying from the illness since vaccinations began. But the state continues to lag most other states in vaccine distribution.
More than 1.6 million people in Louisiana—35% of the state’s total population—have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to state health department data. More than 1.4 million people have been fully immunized, about 31% of the population. Only Mississippi and Alabama have lower vaccination rates per capita, according to the CDC. Read the full story.