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Some NELA venues, groups wonder if Phase 3 will restore normalcy for their businesses

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 9:34 PM CDT
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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - Restaurants, bars, churches, and other venues are on pins needles as the Governor prepares to release Phase 3 guidelines.

Governor John Bel. Edwards announced that Louisiana would be moving into Phase 3 on Friday, Sept. 11.

“Going into phase three has been a sigh of relief for a lot of us. I know that we’ve been waiting on this for months," said Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Shane Smiley.

The announcement was made during a news conference held Thursday. Gov. Edwards did not give many specifics about what his new proclamation would allow, but did say the statewide mask mandate would remain in place through Phase 3.

Louisiana has been in Phase 2 since June 5. That proclamation limited capacity to 50% for large venues such as restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters.

Smiley is also a newly opened restaurant owner at Catahoula’s in Monroe. He said he hopes to see restaurants get a capacity increase in Phase 3.

“Restaurants currently at phase two are at 50% and I hope that they’re at least 75% at Phase 3," Smiley said.

In addition, bars without LDH food permits were initially open but later required to close.

This was a big loss for Big Tuna Entertainment which serves different restaurants, bars, and other venues across North East Louisiana. The group performs comedy shows, trivia. music, and karaoke nights.

Host Nick Harrison said it was a crushing loss for them.

“We had to stop at a lot of the venues we were working at. It really took a toll on the business," Harrison said. In the meantime, they have been doing outdoor karaoke weekly at Monroe’s Two Dudes Brew and Que.

His hope is that Phase 3 will extend some grace to larger venues so that way they can get back to doing the work they love.

“We don’t want to just put on shows and perform for everybody, we want to help grow this community," Harrison said.

The White House has a full set of guidelines for reopening. According to the plan, Phase 3 would allow visits to hospitals and senior care facilities, limited physical distancing protocols for large venues, gyms can reopen if they adhere to sanitation measures, and bars may operate with increased standing room capacity where applicable.

As Louisiana awaits the full set of guidelines from the Governor, many are hoping to get the plans in time so they can get back to business as usual.

“I think it’s very important that the governor make a decision as soon as he can for what phase three is going to look like so that people can plan," Smiley said.

Gov. Edwards is expected to give more details Friday at his 2 p.m. news conference.

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