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A worshiper raises his mask to take communion at St. Benilde Catholic Church in Metairie, Sunday May 17, 2020, the first day for indoor church services allowed under Phase 1 reopenings during the coronavirus pandemic. STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT THRELKELD

Most of Louisiana has officially been reopened for the first week of Phase 1’s loosened coronavirus restrictions. 

The order, enacted last Friday, from Gov. John Bel Edwards permitted a list of businesses including gyms, barber shops, hair salons, casinos, bars with food permits and other businesses, to reopen with 25% capacity. In addition, churches and other businesses that operated under a 10-person occupancy limit in previous restrictions could have gatherings with 25% of their normal capacity. 

The rules were put in place to help slow the spread of the infectious disease that’s resulted in more than 36,000 cases and 2,500 deaths across Louisiana since the pandemic was first reported in the state in March.

The guidelines were made in accordance with White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s plans to reopen cities and states in three phases. 

So, when will the next phase begin in Louisiana? Here’s everything you need to know about the plans in place to shift to Phase 2 when the time comes:

What is the criteria for Phase 2?

According to White House guidelines, states were allowed to begin Phase 1 after meeting the following criteria.

  • Symptoms: Must be on a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period
  • Cases: Must be on a downward trajectory of documented cases and positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period
  • Hospitals: Must treat all patients without crisis care and have a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing. 

To move into Phase 2 of reopening, a state or region must have no evidence of a rebound in coronavirus infections and satisfy the criteria to enter Phase 1 a second time. 

When can Louisiana enter Phase 2?

Louisiana entered Phase 1 of reopening on May 15. 

Edwards has said Phase 1 restrictions would last for at least least 21 days. Using that guideline, the earliest Louisiana could look at entering Phase 2, if an extension to Phase 1 or revert to stricter restrictions isn’t made, would be June 5. 

What is allowed in Phase 2?

Under White House guidelines Phase 2 of reopening would allow the reopening of schools and organized youth activities, such as day cares and camps. Bars would also be allowed to reopen, but with diminished standing-room occupancy.

It’s also expected that occupancy limits will be raised, but unclear by how much. While Louisiana is limiting occupancy based on a percentage of capacity, the White House guidelines say that public gatherings should not have more than 50 people present if social distancing isn’t possible..

The strict distancing guidelines placed on larger venues such as sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues and places of worship can be relaxed further to “operate under moderate physical distancing protocols.” 

Workers are encouraged to continue working remotely whenever possible and feasible, and non-essential travel can resume.

You can read a full list of the Phase 2 guidelines from the White House here.