The city of New Orleans, Louisiana will require all customers at bars, restaurants, stadiums, concerts, and other indoor venues to show their proof of vaccination or a negative covid-19 test taken within 72 hours in order to gain admittance, according to Mayor LaToya Cantrell who made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday.
“Don’t look for reasons to be the exception. Don’t look for the loopholes. Look for your vaccination card and be prepared to show it,” Cantrell said while announcing the new requirements.
The new rules will go into effect on Monday, August 16 and the list includes virtually every indoor activity open to the public, including gyms, casinos, skating rinks, pool halls, strip clubs, and just about anything else you can think of that happens indoors.
The Superdome, home of the Saints football team, will also be subject to the new rules, as well as the statewide indoor mask mandate already being enforced. The mayor was quick to note that the rules apply to both residents of Louisiana as well as out-of-state visitors to New Orleans, a city that’s extremely dependent financially on tourism.
Louisiana has seen a disturbing surge in covid-19 cases over recent weeks, with 5,287 cases and 54 deaths on Thursday alone. Louisiana also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with just 37.9% of the population fully vaccinated against covid-19. Roughly 45% have received at least one dose. Nationally, the vaccination rate stands at 50.9%, a number well below anything that could be considered “herd immunity” by epidemiologists.
The mayor’s announcement, which is available on YouTube, included an anecdote about how she had gotten her vaccine card laminated and used it over the past weekend to prove her vaccination status.
“You know, I tested this out myself at Saffron’s on Saturday,” Mayor Cantrell explained. “And no problem. I was proud to have my car laminated. Bam, pulled it out. And then my friend, who I was with, she had her LA wallet, bam, pulled it out and we had a great time.”
The mayor suggested that while she’d like to give businesses a longer grace period, there’s simply not enough time with so much at stake, urging businesses to start enforcing the new rules as soon as possible.
“This will go into effect on Monday and we will begin aggressive enforcement actions the following week. So right around August the 23rd is when we expect to be on the ground in terms of enforcement. But again, I’m encouraging our businesses, you don’t have to wait, you can go ahead and activate,” Cantrell said.
Acceptable proof of vaccination includes the Louisiana Wallet App’s Smart Health Card, a photo of your vaccine card (front and back), or an official vaccine record issued by a health care provider.
New Orleans isn’t the only U.S. city introducing new vaccine mandates for entering indoor spaces. San Francisco announced similar measures to New Orleans on Thursday, requiring anyone 12 years and older to show proof of vaccination to get into bars, restaurants, and theaters. San Francisco’s vaccine mandate goes into effect on August 20, even earlier than Mayor Cantrell’s August 16 deadline in New Orleans.
“We have a vaccine. And this is our only way out of this virus,” Mayor Cantrell said. “And we have to act now. We don’t have time.”
“When I think about 2022, I’m so serious. I do not want to bring this virus into yet another year. We cannot sustain that blow and we shouldn’t have to,” Cantrell said.
“In New Orleans, we start our year, January, of course, like everywhere else, but it starts with events and activities that sets us apart from anywhere else in this country. And I’m going to say, hey, anywhere else in the world.”