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New Orleans lifts proof-of-vaccine rule for bars, eateries

March 21, 2022 GMT
FILE - People enjoy a beignet and a hot café au lait at Cafe du Monde on a rainy day, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in New Orleans. Bars, restaurants and other businesses in New Orleans are no longer required to make patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test for the disease, the city said Monday, March 21, 2022, in a news release. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, File)
FILE - People enjoy a beignet and a hot café au lait at Cafe du Monde on a rainy day, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in New Orleans. Bars, restaurants and other businesses in New Orleans are no longer required to make patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test for the disease, the city said Monday, March 21, 2022, in a news release. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, File)
FILE - People enjoy a beignet and a hot café au lait at Cafe du Monde on a rainy day, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in New Orleans. Bars, restaurants and other businesses in New Orleans are no longer required to make patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test for the disease, the city said Monday, March 21, 2022, in a news release. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, File)
FILE - People enjoy a beignet and a hot café au lait at Cafe du Monde on a rainy day, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in New Orleans. Bars, restaurants and other businesses in New Orleans are no longer required to make patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test for the disease, the city said Monday, March 21, 2022, in a news release. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, File)
FILE - People enjoy a beignet and a hot café au lait at Cafe du Monde on a rainy day, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in New Orleans. Bars, restaurants and other businesses in New Orleans are no longer required to make patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test for the disease, the city said Monday, March 21, 2022, in a news release. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bars, restaurants and other businesses in New Orleans are no longer required to make patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test for the disease, the city said Monday in a news release.

The mandate, which dates back to August, was officially lifted at 6 a.m.

New COVID-19 cases remain low in the city and hospital capacity is “robust,” according to the city’s statement.

The move comes nearly three weeks after locals and tourists crowded onto city streets — and into restaurants and bars — for the annual Mardi Gras celebration. An end to a citywide indoor mask mandate was announced on March 2, the day after Mardi Gras.

“With the return of Mardi Gras this year, we were able to celebrate safely. And now we are ready for this next step. We will continue to closely monitor the data, and remain guided by science,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.

The city’s COVID-19 website shows a seven-day rolling average of new cases was 28 as of Sunday. Just over 77% of the city’s population has at least begun the COVID-19 vaccination sequence; just over 68% of the population is fully vaccinated. The percentage of adults in the city who are fully vaccinated is 77%.

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The mask and vaccine mandates continued despite criticism and litigation from some city businesses and residents. While officials did not rule out bringing the mitigation measures back if conditions warrant, the statement stressed individual responsibility for combating the spread of the disease.

“Residents should prepare for the likelihood of future surges by continuing to assess risk levels for themselves and loved ones and relying on proven mitigation strategies: testing, masks, and staying up to date with COVID vaccinations,” the city statement said.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.