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UPDATE: Closures expanded; local curfews allowed

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Posted at 10:00 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 22:04:01-04

Today Governor John Bel Edwards increased measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana.

Among the changes:
All gatherings of 50 people or more must be canceled or postponed. This doesn't apply to shopping centers, airports, hospitals, offices or grocery stores open for "normal business." If local government feels more restrictive policies are needed, those are OK.

Casinos, video poker establishments, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and gyms must close. Truck stops can stay open, but they must not allow any gaming. Tracks can stay open, but without spectators and no gaming is allowed.

Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops must close. They can still sell food via drive-throughs, take out and delivery. Hotel restaurants can operate but only for room service.

All governments must arrange for teleconferencing of meeting attendance, and make all arrangements to allow the public to watch that way as well.

All prescriptive periods for lawsuits are suspended.

All deadlines in all legal proceedings are suspended.

Local curfews between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. are allowed if local law enforcement think they are necessary.

All driver's license expiration dates that fall in the next couple of months are postponed.

These changes are effective statewide at midnight. Operations may be able to resume on April 13, however, the situation will be reevaluated seven days prior.

“More aggressive steps are necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19 across Louisiana. Following additional guidance from the CDC, gatherings of more than 50 people are no longer permitted, bars and casinos must close and restaurants will only be able to offer take out or delivery,” Gov. Edwards said. “These limitations were difficult to make, but they are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health of Louisianans and flatten the curve.”

“What we’re learning is that it can take two weeks for symptoms to appear. We believe we are still unearthing community spread that’s been around for the past several weeks, which means it is a statewide problem that requires statewide solutions,” Gov. Edwards said. “In addition to meeting with Sen. Bill Cassidy this morning who is supportive of our efforts, I was also on a call with President Trump and Vice President Pence that lasted more than an hour and they were very clear that we must significantly expand our mitigation efforts to slow the progress of COVID-19 before there is more community spread. Action must be taken now, even in areas where there are no confirmed cases yet.”