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New Orleans sets both vaccine and face mask requirements for dine-in restaurant guests

The mandate also applies to restaurant employees.
Photograph: Shutterstock

New Orleans on Thursday became the latest major restaurant market to limit on-premise dining to guests who can prove they’ve received at least half a vaccination against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for coronavirus.

The dining mecca’s mandate, effective 6 a.m. on Aug. 16, veers from the versions of cities like New York and San Francisco by requiring that the vaccinated customers also wear face masks if dining indoors with individuals from outside their household. Philadelphia also requires face masks, but only if all customers and employees of an establishment aren’t required to provide proof of inoculation. New Orleans is essentially opting for double safety precautions.

The vaccination and masking requirements also apply to New Orleans’ restaurant employees. Children under age 12 are exempted.

The city said that proof of receiving just one vaccination shot is sufficient to secure entry. New York City intends to use the same threshold. San Francisco requires full vaccinations, or proof that two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna sera have been administered.

Patrons and employees who opt to show proof of a negative COVID test must present results that are no more than 72 hours old.

Officials of the famed dining destination said the safety measures are necessary because only slightly more than 52% of residents have been vaccinated, and the number is even lower in some parts of the city.

Like many other jurisdictions, the city is seeing new infections of COVID-19 rebound to levels that haven’t been recorded since the early days of the pandemic. The cause has been the delta variant of the coronavirus, which is significantly more infectious. Some health officials have concluded that the strain also has more of an impact on a sufferers’ health.

Lawmakers in the county encompassing Los Angeles directed health and consumer-affair officials earlier this week to provide an in-depth study on the feasibility of imposing a vaccine mandate in that restaurant-rich market. The report is due in about 10 days.

The Biden administration has indicated that it will not seek a federal vaccine mandate, but said that it encourages private businesses to adopt their own requirements. McDonald’s alerted corporate employees that they will be obliged to provide proof of being inoculated, and Chipotle Mexican Grill has indicated that it would consider a measure.

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