People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can go mask-free in most of New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Friday. And, they can celebrate by dancing.
The latest easing of restrictions in the city that was once a Southern hot spot for the coronavirus disease follows this week’s easing of masking recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Cantrell said there are some exceptions. Masks will still be required in city government buildings, hospitals and K-12 schools, as well as on public transportation. And she repeatedly urged people to get vaccinated.
“We're not out of the woods. The virus is still amongst us,” Cantrell said, stressing the city is committed to getting all residents vaccinated.
City health director Jennifer Avegno said more than half of city residents who are eligible have received the required number of vaccine doses -- one Johnson & Johnson dose or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. But she stressed that the numbers still need to improve — and that people aren't considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after they have completed their shots.
Avegno also happily announced the easing of another restriction in a city that has slowly begun returning to opening bars and allowing live music: A ban on dancing at public venues was ending — for people who are vaccinated. “We are no longer the town from ‘Footloose’," she said, referencing a 1984 movie about a town that banned dancing.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards eased the state's mask mandate in April and was expected to address the issue again on Friday. His order in late April limited the state's masking requirement to schools, hospitals, clinics and other specific locations.
The latest federal guidance says vaccinated people no longer need a mask or to physically distance in most situations. That includes when outside and in many indoor spaces like restaurants, hair salons and grocery stores. Unvaccinated people are still advised to wear masks indoors and in certain other settings, under the CDC guidelines.