Louisiana moves into Phase One as Stay at Home order is lifted 
On Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards formally declared that Louisiana is entering into Phase One of its Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana today as the Stay at Home order is lifted.

More businesses will be allowed to open with strict social distancing, enhanced sanitation and required masks for employees helping the public. New types of businesses that may open beginning today, with 25 percent occupancy limits, sanitation guidelines and spacing for physical distancing include:

  • Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops
  • Shopping malls
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Barber and beauty shops, and nail salons
  • Movie theaters
  • Racetracks (not open to spectators)
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
  • Bars and breweries with LDH food permits

The governor’s proclamation also included specific guidance for a few key segments within the tourism industry:

  • Casinos and video poker establishments may open on May 18, at 25 percent occupancy and with 50 percent of their gaming positions, spaced out to allow for social distancing and with enhanced sanitation. Gaming facilities must have a plan approved by the Gaming Control Board prior to reopening.

  • Bars & breweries without LDH food permits must remain closed.

  • All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, must remain closed to the public and members, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, fairs, pool halls, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, concert and music halls, adult entertainment venues, bowling alleys.

  • All restaurants, cafes and coffee shops shall be allowed to begin dine-in service with 25 percent occupancy limit, closed waiting areas, strict social distancing, masks for employees who interact with the public. Buffets and other common food stations should remain closed.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Health have issued guidance for different types of businesses to help them enter Phase One in a way that ensures they operate safely and at the maximum level allowed. Business owners can find information at OpenSafely.la.gov.

With the exception of gaming establishments and shopping malls, no business owner is required to register or to get approval of their opening plans in advance. Registering for the Open Safely site is not required to reopen, but it is encouraged as it will allow businesses to get the latest information quickly.

Additional guidance is expected from the Resilient Louisiana Task Force in the coming weeks.
State Legislature advances tourism bill, limited liability bills
After significant grassroots outreach from LTA members across the state, the House advanced HB 292 today. This important measure will remove the two-room minimum threshold for occupancy tax collection and pair it with the definition of a “hotel” for state sales tax collection. This definition change will require short-term rental companies, including AirBnB and VRBO, to collect and remit occupancy taxes. The measure now moves to the Senate.

On Thursday, the Senate passed three bills that limit business liability during a declared state of emergency, SB 435, SB 489 and SB 508. These bills will now move to the House. 
Next round of federal relief still unclear 
The next round of federal coronavirus relief legislation will not likely pass until after Memorial Day, despite the introduction of a new bill in the House earlier this week. HR 6697 is predicted to lose momentum in the Republican-controlled Senate without modifications, as it does not include Leader McConnell's number one priority: limited liability protections for businesses reopening in the pandemic.

However, this bill could serve as a good starting point for future negotiations and does include several important provisions for the travel industry:

  • $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments
  • An additional $20 billion in Community Development Block Grants
  • Funding for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing at the state and local level
  • General Fund revenue to replace any shortfalls in the Airport and Airways Trust Fund
  • Funding for highways and transit

We are encouraged by the bill’s focus on state and local funding. LTA and LACVB continue to work with our lobbyists and industry partners to secure relief for our CVBs and marketing dollars for every Louisiana destination.
Member resources for PPE 
As you work to reopen your business, keep LTA member companies in mind. REI promos is currently offering personal protective equipment (PPE). Champion Graphic Communications has some PPE available and can also print open signage and distancing reminders.  If you are a member business who is currently offering PPE resources, please contact Laine Garner to let us know. 
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