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Our COVID-19 Response Team, with the guidance of Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Bishop-Elect Robert Marshall are working with all of our pastors regarding beginning to celebrate Mass publicly.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious and deadly disease. The fundamental concept of this phased opening plan is to slowly open businesses at reduced occupant capacities that will allow for social distancing and circulation to keep employees and patrons safe. Everyone’s cooperation is critical to the success towards defeating this disease and revitalizing our economy.

The virus spreads primarily through person-to-person contact, from droplets that are formed by coughing, sneezing or other projections, or by touching infected surfaces and then touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth. Individuals can carry the virus and be contagious for up to 14 days prior to having any symptoms. The guidelines outlined below for social distancing, face coverings and sanitation are proven methods of mitigating these modes of transmission. THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT to remember is that COVID-19 is still prevalent across the state. We must all continue to do our part to help slow the spread, protect the most vulnerable and continue to remain vigilant until a cure or vaccine is widely available to provide general immunity.

While not required, below are a few public health recommendations for businesses looking for ways to protect employees and staff:

• Strongly encouraged to wear masks or face coverings;
• Screen customers for symptoms before entry;
• Move to reservation systems to discourage congregating in groups while waiting for service;
• Adopt sick leave policies that reduce the disincentive for employees to try to come to work sick; and
• Allow employees in high-risk groups or who directly live with/care for a high-risk individual to work in areas without direct public contact

Places of Worship must adhere to moderate mitigation standards and social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Six feet of separation from other individuals not within the same household is recommended. In addition, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced. Individuals 65 years or older, people of all ages with poor control of medical issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, or a weakened immune system are at a higher risk for getting very sick or dying from COVID-19 and should strictly adhere to all CDC guidelines, and are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible. The specific requirements and guidelines for operation during this phase are listed below. These requirements and guidelines supplement and do not replace any directives or guidance provided by other state agencies, boards and commissions, or other authorities having jurisdiction. Where conflicts occur, the stricter of the requirements will apply.

Occupant Capacity and Building Safety Rules:
The maximum building capacity during the Phase 2 period is limited to 50% of the normal established capacity and is subject to the social distancing requirements as outlined below. Please note that capacity restrictions should be applied down to the individual room or space, not just overall facilities.

• Do not exceed the maximum building capacity of 50%
• Seating shall be arranged such that a minimum of 6 feet of distance between persons and small household groups is maintained.
• Limit group seating to persons who are members of the same household.
• Eliminate physical contact as part of services.
• Eliminate gatherings in the building while entering, exiting, or moving about.
• Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces, as well as high-touch surfaces, followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in community settings.
• Refer to OSFM Interpretive Memorandum 2020-24 for guidelines addressing Outdoor Services.

The entire guideline provided by the Office of the Governor and the Louisiana Department of Health can be viewed here.