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New Orleans eases coronavirus restrictions, allows later 'last call'

New Orleans eases coronavirus restrictions, allows later 'last call'
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New Orleans on Friday announced that it is easing some of its coronavirus restrictions, and is extending hours for alcohol sales.

Starting Friday night, service and sales of alcohol at bars, restaurants and other venues can run until 1 a.m., extending the cutoff from the previous time of 11 p.m., the city said.

Sales of alcohols for consumption on or off premises, including packaged alcohol sales, can only occur during the same time period.

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The city said it’s making the changes due to improved coronavirus conditions. As of Friday, cases have declined over the past nine weeks and are now averaging below 50 cases a day.

The city also said that 37 percent of its residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with nearly 25 percent being fully vaccinated.

The change comes as part of the city’s modified phase 3 reopening plan. Under the plan, indoor gatherings are limited to 150 people, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 250 people.

All activities must include strict social distancing, and masks are required when around anyone outside one's household. The state of Louisiana requires masks to be worn in public.

Businesses such as bars, restaurants, beauty salons, retail stores and bus tours are allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity.

Late last month, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) eased occupancy restrictions on bars and restaurants. However, he still kept social distancing and the state’s mask mandate in place.

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The state on Friday reported 739 new coronavirus infections since Thursday, bringing its cumulative total to 448,838.