NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Some businesses were slammed from the minute they reopened Friday after a 2 1/2-month COVID-19 pandemic closure, while others waited for their first customers or even took another week to prepare.

Bars, massage facilities, bowling alleys, recreational pools and tattoo shops in Louisiana were allowed to reopen under an order signed Thursday by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

At A Bodyworks Massage and Spa in Monroe, owner Donna Laseter had no time for an interview. “We've been off for 10 weeks, so we’ve got everybody coming in and our phone’s ringing off the hooks,” she said.

Restaurants and other businesses that had been allowed to open in mid-May at 25% of capacity were allowed to expand to half-capacity on Friday. The new rules will be in effect for at least three weeks, Edwards said.

New Orleans, the state’s original outbreak hot spot, isn't participating in the wider reopening. More time and data is needed to decide when that is safe, city officials said.

Lake Charles bowling alley supervisor Ashley Gunderson said nobody had shown up during Friday's first hour at Petro Bowl, but several people had called to say they would be coming.

She expected the weekend to be busy. “I have kids. They get up early,” she said. Half of the business's 48 lanes are blocked off.

Matt Sussky said he bought $1,800 worth of masks, gloves, hospital drapes, sanitizers, soap dispensers and other equipment to prepare for a properly sanitary reopening for Stella Ink Collective, his tattoo studio in Covington.

Tattooing “is really getting into somebody's space," he said, noting that his studio won't be tattooing hands or faces.

But he was waiting to reopen sometime next week, partly to be sure his apprentice and two employees understand every detail of those rules and because Tropical Storm Cristobal was approaching, making nasty weekend weather likely.

The state's checklist for storm preparedness at has been updated to include things needed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Edwards said.

Tammy L. Higginbotham said Thursday that she was waiting until June 16 to reopen her one-person massage business because alcoholic sanitizing gel, face masks and aprons to wear over her scrubs were all on back-order.

“I’m already booked for three weeks,” said Higginbotham, of Body Kneads in West Monroe. “All my regular clients started blowing out my phone once they found I could go back to work.”

She had been able to get a touchless thermometer and said the reopening restrictions wouldn’t affect her much aside from taking clients’ temperatures and “being extra-clean.”

“I always spaced my clients out before all this to give me time,” she said.

The reopening came as Florida lifted travel restrictions for Louisiana residents and Louisiana's health department reported that the number of cases had risen from more than 41,500 to nearly 42,000. The number of deaths rose by 29, to 2,801. However, those figures are down significantly from April's peaks of 1,300 new cases and 74 deaths in one day.

Many people infected by the highly contagious coronavirus don't show any symptoms, and most who do have mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. But for some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause life-threatening illness.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday canceled his March order calling for anyone arriving from Louisiana to self-quarantine. His similar order for the New York area remained intact.


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