New Orleans hospitality industry deals with new rules as city fights COVID-19 outbreak

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TEHRAN, IRAN – MARCH 16: A photo shows a view of an empty restaurant due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, on March 16, 2020 in Tehran, Iran. The death toll in Iran from the coronavirus outbreak rose to 853, local media reported on Monday. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS (WVLA/WGMB) — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has issued new guidelines for the hospitality industry in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The policies apply to businesses located within the city, which is a popular tourist destination. The Big Easy hosted 17.74 million visitors in 2017, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The guidelines were released in a statement from the Mayor’s Office on March 15 and were implemented the same day.


  • All full-service restaurants with seating cease operations at 9 p.m. daily. Further they will work to limit their seating capacity for social distancing whether it is removing tables/chairs or using a checkerboard type seating pattern to provide more guest spacing. The goal is to reduce seating by up to 50 percent. Employers will continue to monitor employees and ask employees to regularly take their own temperature. As supplies allow, employers will also assist. This goes for beverage/bar servers. Employers will continue to post signs for enhanced cleaning processes and how to maintain good health. 
  • Once the dining room closes, a restaurant can still offer delivery until its usual closing time.
  • The quick-service or fast-casual establishments can only offer “drive-thru” service but can be extended to 24 hours if they so choose. 
  • Bars and nightclubs will cease service at 12 a.m. daily. They will limit their capacity to up to 50 percent of posted patron limit. Last call will be at 11:15 pm. Everyone must be out and headed home by 12 am. 
  • Hotel operations will adhere to above operating times for their restaurants and bar operations as well as limiting capacity.
  • Operators will post notice to patrons that when they depart to please consider returning home.
  • Operators will not allow gathering for waiting for seating, or access purposes. They will implement use of text messaging to advise if the table is ready.
  • Operators will encourage no public gatherings in any area.
  • Once patrons exit the premises of restaurants or bars, they may not loiter in the street or congregate in groups outside. This will be enforced city-wide.
  • Tour groups will be limited to groups of no more than seven (7) at a time.

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