New Orleans to require vaccinations or negative COVID tests for indoor activities

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell Thursday announced that people wanting to go to bars, restaurants, the Superdome, and other indoor venues will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to get in. The regulations begin Monday, August 16.

This comes as COVID-19 cases overwhelm area hospitals. The Louisiana Department of Health today reported 2,901 hospitalized patients, a record for the pandemic. Doctors and nurses have been working multiple shifts to try and keep up with the case load.

To prove vaccination status, individuals can use the LA Wallet app; an original, digital photograph, or photocopy of CDC vaccination cards (both sides); or an official vaccine record issued by another state, foreign nation, or the World Health Organization.

The mayor decided this would be a better way to try and mitigate the spread than re-imposing capacity limits or restricted hours. She and her public health team have been grappling with how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which is affecting largely unvaccinated people. While vaccines have been available to most Louisiana residents since April, so far they have only been approved for use in people age 12 and older.

"We're not changing capacities," Cantrell said. "We want you vaccinated."

The mayor has already reinstated a citywide mask mandate.

Some restaurants and nightclubs in New Orleans took it upon themselves to require customers show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test. The mayor's mandate is the first of its kind in Louisiana. The city of New York instated similar rules this month. Los Angeles is considering it.