It’s Friday and the beginning of the weekend, and there is great news for St. Charles and St. John Parishes: bars are opening!!!
Under Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’ Phase 3 guidelines, bars will be allowed to open in St. Charles and St. John Parishes since each parish has achieved the required positivity rate, which is getting it below 5% for two consecutive weeks. Restaurants that have been open to limited capacity and allowed to sell alcohol can now sell drinks for an extra hour - until 11:00 pm.
Bars in St. Charles and St. John Parishes can now open up to 25% capacity or 50 people. Seating must follow social distancing guidelines. There will be table service only, and masks must be worn when customers are not at their tables.
If bars in the two parishes are allowed to open for hitting the benchmark - then WHY are the bars in New Orleans still closed?
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has ruled over the pandemic with an iron fist. While the state moved into Phase 3 - the Mayor has held New Orleans back in Phase 2 - even though the data would suggest otherwise. Mayor Cantrell has been saying that the decision to reopen businesses in the city would be driven by data, but she is not allowing bars to open in spite of positive data.
The latest daily numbers in New Orleans show 8 new coronavirus cases, 0 new deaths, 11 new COVID-related hospitalizations and a positive test rate of 1.3%. If the criteria for reopening bars is a positivity rate under 5%, upon what data is Cantrell justifying keeping the bars shut down?
Throughout the pandemic, Mayor Cantrell has consistently shown a tendency to emphasize the power she has to control the masses. Even the wording of many of her comments supports the belief that this mayor is enjoying her position of power and is willing to remind anyone and everyone that SHE is the one who controls the destiny of businesses and people.
As the state opened to Phase 3, Mayor Cantrell almost seemed happy to announce that the city of New Orleans would remain in Phase 2 as a way of protecting “our people.” The Mayor has openly complimented the people of New Orleans for following the rules of the pandemic to the point where younger students can return to the classroom; but yet, she holds back on opening other aspects of the economy that data would suggest should be opened.
Bars are an essential part of the French Quarter. There are some tourists in town, but there is great frustration over the bars being closed. Mayor Cantrell’s desire to keep bars closed even though the data tell a different story, supports the criticism that the Mayor is enjoying exercising her power.
If the data show bars in the city meet the criteria to open, then why do the bars remain closed? Listeners have called and texted my show on WWL Radio, accusing Mayor Cantrell of holding the city back as a scheme to get money for the city. It is sad to think that the Mayor might be manipulating the businesses and the citizens of New Orleans to get funding.
At the very least, Mayor Cantrell owes the people of New Orleans a better explanation as to why she insists on defying the data and not allowing bars to open.