Let the good times ... hold. Virus recloses New Orleans bars

A musician plays his trumpet as pedestrians walk by on Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Thursday, July 9, 2020. A sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is forcing bars in the good-time-loving, tourist-dependent city to shut down again just a month after they were allowed to partially reopen.

NEW ORLEANS — On any other July night, at any other time, New Orleans tourism officials would welcome a crowd on Bourbon Street during the slow summer months.

But with the city experiencing an uptick in new coronavirus cases, visitors shoulder to shoulder, some wearing masks, some not, are not what city leaders want to see.

“A lot of the restaurants are not open as you can see,” Adams said. “The plywood is still up on a lot of places. But you know everybody is still in the spirit. Everyone wants to come to Bourbon Street and have good time. It’s what it’s about.”

Saturday night, Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate photographer Sophia Germer shot a photo essay on Bourbon Street.

“It looked like how it was months before (the Coronavirus outbreak), Germer said.

Her pictures show large groups of people gathered outside bars and clubs which are take-out only under the latest reopening mandates.

“There was no social distancing,” Germer said. “You could tell that some people were a little timid going into the crowd. Some people kind of hanged back in areas that were not as packed.”

New Orleans And Company Senior VP Mark Romig told WWL-TV, despite the large crowds, hotels in the city continue to struggle.

“The hotels that we’ve spoken to about the weekend, reported pretty flat, probably 20%, 25% occupancy,” Romig said. “Then of course dropping during the weekday now back into close to single digits.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said her team will address the uncontrolled gatherings in the French Quarter and elsewhere in the city.

“We saw some level of compliance, but we’re very much concerned about those large gatherings that we cannot charge that to a particular establishment,” Cantrell said.

The mayor planned to discuss the crowds on Bourbon Street and what can be done about it with her unified command which includes the city health director and police superintendent.

Cantrell said the rate of positive COVID-19 cases is creeping up again in New Orleans.

Just two weeks ago, the rate was hovering around 2%.

The mayor said now the test positive rate is close to 7%.

She added that the vast majority of new coronavirus cases come as a result of community spread.

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